Invincible Toyota Prius Makes Case for NYC ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’
Those trying to pull the plug on electric vehicle adoption often warn about the fragile nature of EV batteries, hinting of impending doom and expenses for owners. While there has been substantial evidence to the contrary, a video from Toyota Austria (via Green Car Reports) cements the die-hard reputation of the most famous hybrid, offering up a Prius taxi with over one million kilometers (621,000 miles) without a need to swap the battery. Taken with the survey suggesting Prius is the most durable car on the road, the choice of the Nissan NV200 as New York’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” starts to look misguided.
In June, a New York judge ruled it was legal for the city to force adoption of its preferred taxi model, opening the door for the NV200 as NYC’s taxi of the future. Access for handicapped riders, cargo space, and the sliding van doors (excellent at avoiding passing cyclists) were the NV200’s chief selling points.
The van’s fuel economy of of 24 miles per gallon combined is another story. Prius’s performance of 51 miles per gallon in city driving is more than twice as good, and Toyota is now giving municipal transit departments a million reasons to rethink their policy about taxi fleets. This clip from Toyota’s Austrian unit offers a reminder of long-term implications on emissions.
While stories released by an automaker’s press team always need to be taken with a grain of salt, the Prius already established itself as the most durable vehicle on the road in 2015 Consumer Reports research. An owner survey covering over one million vehicles showed Prius had more models with 200,000 miles on the road than any other car.
By the time it reaches full adoption, the Taxi of Tomorrow could make up 80% of the New York fleet, according to the New York Times. It may end up being a wrong turn for a city desperately trying to reduce emissions.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the OneNYC plan on Earth Day 2015 which included a goal of 80% emissions reductions by 2050. It is hard to imagine how those goals will even be sniffed with a taxi fleet operating on vehicles that achieve 24 miles per gallon — some of which will replace Prius and other hybrid models currently on the road.
Improving the economy of taxi fleets would have an overwhelming impact on greenhouse gas emissions in a city like New York. Research has shown how greener taxi fleets could reduce 94% of emissions in city vehicles by 2030 with the right mix of automated electric vehicles and smarter deployment to match riders’ needs.
Optimists might suggest the electric version of the NV200, available in Europe but not in the U.S., will slide into the mix as adoption of the gas model takes over New York streets. Though the same physical specs would guarantee its acceptance, the likelihood of this happening is slim without the necessary infrastructure (i.e., charging stations) in place.
Instead, a taxi featuring half the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius — a car that regularly lasts over 200,000 miles — will power the busiest fleet in the country. Considering the alternatives, the Taxi of Tomorrow looks like a flop.
Source: Green Car Reports