NYC's Yellow Cabs to go Hybrid by 2012

By 2012, New York City Mayor Bloomberg hopes to improve the environment by only allowing a gas mileage of 25 miles per gallon for the city's whole taxi fleet. Currently, roughly 90% of the city's 13,000 yellow cabs are Crown Victorias that get around 10 to 15 miles per gallon for city driving. On the other hand, there are currently only 375 fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles cruising city streets. That number will increase to 1,000 by October of 2008, and it will grow by about 20% each year until 2012 when every yellow cab will be a hybrid. Yahoo Incorporated said it would donate 10 hybrid Ford Escape taxis, which get 36 miles per gallon. "There's an awful lot of taxicabs on the streets of New York City obviously, so it makes a real big difference. These cars just sit there in traffic sometimes, belching fumes; this does a lot less. It's a lot better for all of us," said Bloomberg.

Hybrid vehicles run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. They emit less exhaust and achieve higher gas mileage per gallon. The hybrids that have been successfully tested in the city's taxi fleet over the past 18 months include the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the Lexus RX 400h and the Ford Escape. City officials said the new standards, when fully implemented, are expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 200,000 tons per year. Hybrid vehicles are typically more expensive, but the city said the increase in fuel efficiency would save taxi operators more than $10,000 per year.

News source: cbs4denver

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7 Comments

Agreed. It's absolutely ridiculous that they only manage 10-15mpg... I think even 25mpg is too low - 30mpg would be a better start, though obviously the hit on the ecomony (read: the cost) was deemed too great. I hope that this standard is continually upped, forcing better efficiency - if the minimum level is left to stagnate it will do little in the long term.

That's good news.

But Crown Victorias are large cars, you can't expect a V8 car that weighs 2.5 tons to get good gas mileage in the first place. Taxi drivers also choose them because they can run them 300K+ miles and still have a reliable vehicle. Can only hope they duplicate it with the hybrids, otherwise they won't make a dent as the cost of being hybrid + the breakdowns will only kill the idea since they don't make alot of money in the first place.

Here in Toronto the licensing commissioner (or whatever he's called) turned down the idea of bringing that initiative here, saying it's too expensive for taxicab operators to replace their fleet at once. Besides, we don't have that many passengers boarding taxis as opposed to a huge city like NYC.

Nevertheless, the idea may be feasible for independent cab owners. In my dad's case, his 5 year term with his Crown Vic was up. He sold off that car (which was sort of reliable, but a monster gas guzzler) and got a Camry Hybrid. Time will tell if this hybrid is worth it AND if it's just as reliable, if not more than the Crown Vic.

Sure, for the ordinary commuter, getting an expensive hybrid and driving it every now and then will take years to break even in terms of gas costs and the extra premium for a hybrid. But for a vehicle that roams the city day by day, it may be worth it.

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