AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
General Motors announced today that it will begin selling a small cargo van based on heavily on Nissan’s NV200.
American taxi fleets will be allowed to buy electric cars from Chinese automaker Build Your Dreams (BYD) despite the brand’s choice not to offer at the consumer level.
Canadians have it pretty easy. They get free healthcare, dirt-cheap college tuition and now free taxi rides…
A pair of Chevrolet Impala taxi cabs were seized and their drivers are facing “stunt driving” charges out in Toronto, Ontario Canada when they were caught street racing on Canada’s longest street, Younge Street. Those charged with stunt driving will have their license seized for seven days and face a fine between $2,000 to $10,000.
The motives behind why both drivers decided to race it out is unknown, but sections of Younge Street have been known to be street racing spots in the past. Maybe both of them were just reliving the past or settling a grudge, either way we don’t think either of them owe the other a 10 second car.
Check out the news clip after the break.
[Source: CTV News]
With the outdated Crown Victoria taxi being put to rest, the competition to select the future NYC cab has turned into a fierce fight.
Three different models were chosen to be tested including the Nissan NV200, Ford Transit Connect and the Turkish entry, the Karsan V1. Ultimately the NV200 was chosen to serve for the next ten years, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) could approve other vehicles for the fleet. The Transit Connect was among the vehicles selected for approval, and taxi companies can choose to add the Ford van as well. New York will join Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia where officials have approved Transit Connect Taxis for use.
“For decades, Ford has been synonymous with New York City taxis, and we are pleased residents and tourists now will benefit from our next-generation vehicle,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas.
Nissan has launched a global proving test program for their compact electric commercial vehicle NV200.
The Japanese automaker began the test with Japan Post Service. The postal service will be provided with the NV200 to carry out postal collection for two months in Yokohama. The vehicle will be tested in real world conditions to help fine tune small aspects of the NV200. Testing will begin soon in Europe with the vehicle as well.
The testing on this vehicle is vital as it will serve as the next generation New York taxi. The vehicle has been present in Japan and European markets since 2009 and the van has won numerous awards.
“The role that can be played by zero emissions vehicles in promoting a balance between economic growth and environmental protection in the realm of logistics is large” said Nissan Corporate Vice President Hideto Murakami, who is responsible for the Global LCV Business Unit. “We will certainly reflect the customer feedback gained from these proving tests in our future product development, and I expect that our commercial electric vehicles based on the NV200 will contribute to our customers’ business and to the development of a sustainable society”.
The city of New York has chosen Nissan as the supplier for the next generation of taxi cabs. This decision will give Nissan an exclusive 10-year contract for the city’s massive fleet totaling 13,200 taxis.
The Nissan design was chosen over the Ford Transit Connect van as well as a design from Turkish builder Karzan. The Nissan fleet will slowly replace the Ford Crown Victorias as well as the hybrid Ford Escapes.
The Nissan van is based on the NV200, a model Nissan sells in both Europe and Asia and only recently brought to market here.
Selecting just one automaker and just one vehicle has its opponents with owners of big taxi fleets saying they don’t want to be stuck using only one model. Advocates for the disabled, meanwhile, oppose any vehicle that isn’t wheelchair accessible. Only Karsan’s entry met that criteria although Ford and Nissan both offered the ability to make some of their vehicles wheelchair accessible.
The decision to go with Nissan is a major loss for Ford’s plan to offer the new Transit Connect as a taxi in New York. Furthermore, none of the three competitors are currently built in the United States. The NV200 is, however, slated to be built in Mexico. Close enough?
But it can all change very soon if Europe’s biggest car maker can have its way, as Volkswagen has just introduced the e-motion Taxi concept.
This Taxi concept is actually based on VW’s Up concept from a few years ago, which will eventually go into production. The e-motion version is powered by a 115 hp electric motor, which gets its power from a lithium-ion battery pack. VW says this concept has a range of about 180 miles, which is seriously impressive, plus it can get an 80% charge in just one hour. So a taxi driver could be on his lunch break while the car renews its own energy.
It won’t appeal to any boy racers though, as it only has a top speed of 74 mph, but that would be missing the point of this vehicle. The purpose of this vehicle would be to provide a city commute without contributing to the city smog.
It is a brilliant idea and all major cosmopolitan cities around the world can benefit from green transportation vehicles like this.
Will this e-motion Taxi ever go into production? Well it might not become a real taxi, but VW can certainly put this technology into production and thus give birth to a serious rival for the Nissan Leaf.
Red Bull has done some impressive things lately with their marketing involving all forms of motorsports. This time around, they took their Toyota Camry NASCAR race car, tossed in their driver Scott Speed and headed out to Chicago. But it wasn’t to attend a race or put their car on display. They slapped on a taxi sign to the roof and drove all over Chicago, picking up passengers and taking them to their destination in a fully decked out NASCAR race car.
Speed even does some stunt driving, revving up the big V8 and doing a few donuts in downtown Chicago.
We imagine it was a ton of fun to film and produce, and we’re jealous that the residents of Chicago got to take in on the action.
Check out the video after the break, it’s awesome.
Seriously, how can we live in a country where this can happen? Last Saturday, Jonathan Schoenakase of Quincy, Illinois was arrested for operating the pictured vehicle, a courtesy shuttle home from local bars to keep drunk drivers off the road. Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, local taxi companies lobbied to make it illegal.
Jonathan’s friend was killed by a drunk driver in 2009, and as a way to keep drunks off the road, he started offering rides home. The rides were free, although he would accept tips. The business soon grew, adding a second car, and then the bus. Taxi companies, thinking Jonathan was taking their money, lobbied that he was operating a Taxi service without a license, and won. The Quincy Government removed the words “for hire” from its definitions of the words “Taxi Service,” thus eliminating the loophole under which Schoenakase was operating.
Schoenakase has applied for a license, but the local cops say he needs to clear up some “legal issues” before he is approved. He has continued to offer the service during this time, and has been arrested a total of three times for his efforts.
We understand the law is the law, but how can one guy, with one bus, driving drunks home as a tribute to his friend and saving countless lives in the process, get arrested repeatedly? How can a politician, or series of politicians, be corrupted so badly by local businesses that charity becomes illegal?
The worst part? A taxi license in Quincy, Illinois costs $10. No, really.
The yellow Ford Crown Victoria taxi is so common in New York City that it’s almost an icon just like the Yankees or the Empire State Building.
As Crown Victoria production winds down, cab drivers are digging in their heels in the city’s bid to replace the big, rear drive V8 powered sedans with hybrids and other more eco-friendly cabs. So far the first generation Honda Odyssey seems to be the only other vehicle that has won praise from cab drivers, largely due to its flat floor and spacious passenger compartment.
Eco-friendly vehicles like the Toyota Prius, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Volkswagen Jetta TDI have been met with a cool reception for a variety of reasons, but interior space seems to be chief among them. One cabbie who drives a Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid told USA Today that “Some would get into the Crown Vic over this if they had a choice of the two.”
Cab drivers also don’t like the high cost of maintaining a hybrid, with one stating that “Mechanics charge an arm and a leg for them”. On the other hand, the Crown Victoria’s rugged construction and dirt cheap parts prices make it well suited for the brutality of New York Taxi duty.
Unfortunately for these stalwarts, the Crown Vic, along with the Lincoln Town Car (a vehicle so ubiquitous in the executive transport service that it has become a genericized trademark) are no longer being produced, meaning supply will likely dry up in the near future. And what is Ford planning on replacing these cars with? A smaller hybrid, of course.
[Source: USA Today]
The Chinese city of Shenzen recieved a fleet of 40 electric taxicabs last week, marking a historic milestone for China and electric vehicles. The taxis, made by Chinese automaker BYD have a top speed of 140 km/h, and are capable of getting 300 miles on a single charge.BYD, backed by American investor Warren Buffet, is planning to launch its cars in the U.S. market in late 2010, becoming one of the first makers of all-electric vehicles.
BYD also expects Shenzen to have 100 electric taxis running by the end of June. With a population of over 1 billion, poor air quality due to coal-fired power plants and rising energy costs, China is the perfect market for electric vehicles, and it would not be unreasonable to see BYD and other Chinese automakers make significant moves towards promoting electric vehicles both at home and abroad.
It won the North American truck of the year award and in the commercial sector, the Transit Connect has been generating a lot of interest over the last year. The Turkish built, small delivery van has been on sale in Europe since 2002, but was only introduced to our market last year. As Ford is retiring its fleet mainstay, the Crown Victoria sedan in 2011, many government agencies and taxi fleet operators are looking at a suitable replacement. With its small size, tight turning radius, significant interior capacity and decent fuel economy, the Transit Connect is seen as a logical alternative to the Vic taxi by some. Recently, the city of Boston announced that it will be adding these vehicles to its taxi fleets in the fall of this year, making it the first major American metropolis to do so.
According to Mark Cohen, Licensing Director for the Boston Police department that issues cab licenses, “we’ve been very impressed with the Transit Connect. The size, shape and configuration make it comfortable for the driver and passengers. It’s the closest thing to a purpose-built vehicle for taxi use that I’ve seen in 25 years.”
Besides space; durability, ease of maintenance and the ability to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) are all high priorities for taxi fleets. In addition to the Transit Connect’s 2.0-liter gas engine, the company will also be offering new pre prep conversions that allow the vehicle to run on CNG or LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). Even without that, if the Transit Connect proves successful as a taxi, it is likely to boost the average fuel economy of taxi fleets by as much as 30 percent.
[Source: Ford Motor Company]
The question this raises is, how much longer before an all-out taxi war heats up in Germany at the ultimate public toll road, the Nürburgring Nordschleife? BMW already provides high-speed service around the world-famous Ring with a fleet of M5′s, so we’re hoping Porsche’s taxi might be a precursor to a fleet of Ring cabs designed to give the big Bimmer sports sedan a run for its ‘Green Hell’ money.
It won’t be easy for Porsche to match BMW’s Ring Taxi program though, given the significant cost the Bavarian automaker incurs by keeping their fleet of M5′s fresh and driven by experienced racing drivers such as Andy Priaulx, Jörg Müller, Sabine Schmitz of Top Gear fame, Claudia Hürtgen and further instructors of the BMW Driver Training program.
Still, we’d be up for a ride, especially considering the Panamera is the fastest 4-door round the ‘Ring.
The future is nearly here. Better Place, a company devoted to developing rapid battery swap systems, will have its first station on-line by May 2010. According to Green Car Advisor, the first Tokyo station will serve Nihon Kotsu, one of the city’s largest taxi firms.
“These taxis average about 300 kilometers [186 miles] a day each, so that’s three battery exchanges for each taxi each day,” said Better Place spokeswoman Julie Mullins. “It will be a 24/7 test of the system.”
This news is significant, as Better Place has agreements to supply infrastructure to a number of countries and regions around the world, including Ontario, Canada; Denmark; Australia; Hawaii; Northern California; Japan, and Israel. Denmark and Israel will be the first countries with a full Better Place battery swap network, in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
“But,” you say, “there aren’t any vehicles on-sale that support such a technology.”
You’d be right, although the Renault Fluence ZE pictured above will be the first vehicle to support the Better Place system. Since Renault and Nissan are essentially the same company, expect to see the first vehicles in North America to support battery swapping to come from Nissan. Unfortunately, the upcoming (on-sale in August) Leaf all-electric car does not support battery swapping.
See a demo of the Better Place system after the jump: