July 17, 2008

NYC Hurries Green Taxi Changeover

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday that city's yellow taxi cab fleet will go green at the rate of 300 new hybrid cars a month.

According to Matthew Daus, Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman, there are more than 1,300 hybrid taxis In NYC, and each one saves its driver $6,500 a year.

Mayor Bloomberg is trying to accomplish 127 environmental proposals before his second and final four-year term ends in 2010.

Last December, the Taxi and Limousine Commission agreed to require all new vehicles joining the taxi fleet to be hybrids, with an exception for those equipped for the handicapped.

In an agreement with the city, Nissan Motor Co will provide up to 200 Altima hybrids per month, while General Motors and Ford Motor Co will each supply 50 of their top hybrids, the Chevy Malibu and the Ford Escape.

The contract means the Taxi and Limousine Commission is adding 90 more cars a month than what they need to meet their 2012 goal of having the entire taxi fleet be hybrid vehicles.

Demand for hybrids is growing quickly as gas prices continue to rise.  The market is a bright one for automobile manufacturers and New York City is not alone in highlighting taxis.

According to Ford, San Francisco first put the Ford Escape hybrid taxi to use in 2005, followed by Chicago and other cities.

New York City's turn to hybrids could prove influential according to Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"That sends a key signal to automakers and to parts suppliers, such as battery makers and what not, to gear up their efforts to supply millions of hybrids, not just to fleets but to general consumers in the immediate time frame," Kliesch said.


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