Design Crime: NYC’s New Taxi Makes New Yorkers Look Like Soccer Moms


Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the winner of NYC’s hotly anticipated taxi-design competition yesterday. The 10-year, $1 billion contract to furnish New York with thousands of taxis — taxis that’ll define the visual landscape of the city — was awarded to Nissan for the NV200, a minivan. And suffice it to say, it sure ain’t anybody’s idea of a dream car.


The van — which will go into use in late 2013 — is bulky as hell, with a disproportionately long nose and a cartoonish grille that spreads guardedly toward the trunk, like a forced smile. From the front it looks like the Toyota Previa; from the back the Nissan Cube. The interior isn’t much sexier, with lots of severe, boxy lines and gray pleather seats. The overall effect is almost painfully suburban. This thing would make Travis Bickle want to frost the tips of his mohawk and join a knitting circle.

Not that the competition was much better. Nissan beat out Ford and Karsan, a Turkish manufacturer, both of which had proposed some variation on the same dowdy ride. (Karsan’s was at least eccentric, if not particularly attractive, and emerged as something of the people’s favorite because it said it would build the cars in Brooklyn; The NV200 will be manufactured in Mexico.)

[There’s absolutely no way to make this awful thing look good, so we made the images small.–Ed.]

For all its aesthetic atrocities — and when we think what Germans speed around in, we shudder with rage — the NV200 boasts a handful of features, suggesting that the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission isn’t totally stuck in the Dark Ages. It’s got a mobile passenger charging station, including a 12-volt electrical outlet and two USB plugs; independently controlled rear air conditioning; and a transparent roof panel for some gee-whiz, nose-to-the-sky sightseeing. What’s more, as part of the contract, Nissan will work on a pilot program to study the use of zero-emission, electric vehicles. So even if the van is an assault on your eyes, at least it’ll be gentle on the environment.


[Images via Nissan]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.