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First Hybrid Taxis Take to the Streets of New York

Part of CAST’s promotion of hybrids to taxi drivers in New York.

New York City’s first hybrid taxis—a mini-fleet of six Ford Escape hybrids—officially entered operation today with a ceremony in midtown Manhattan where officials from government, advocacy groups and industry gathered for the send off.

Since 1907, only gasoline-powered taxis have worked NYC streets. Thanks to the “Clean Air Taxis Act” and new TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) regulations implemented this past summer, New York’s cab drivers are now free to choose from seven gas-electric hybrid models.

Seven out of 10 New Yorkers in a poll conducted last summer by the Coalition Advocating for Smart Transportation (CAST), a major force behind the change in regulation allowing the hybrid taxis, said New York taxis should be converted to hybrids sooner than later.

The change in city policy was prompted by growing public concern over New York’s air quality—ranked as the third worst among the country’s cities in 2004.

According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, each New York taxi averages nearly 100,000 miles of driving annually. Thus, the fuel savings for drivers and operators could reach the thousands of dollars every year, and enable hybrid taxi owners to recover the premium cost of the technology within the first year on the road.

The hybrids approved for taxi service by the TLC are:

  • Ford Escape / Mercury Mariner Hybrid

  • Toyota Highlander

  • Toyota Prius

  • Honda Accord

  • Honda Civic

  • Lexus Rx 400h



Of course, taxis need to be able to hold passengers and luggage, and provide reasonable room in the back seat for legs, as well as the plexiglass partition.

So, I doubt there'll be many Prius or Civic taxis. The SUVs have a fighting chance, and maybe(?!) the Lexus and Accord have more room?

Mikhail Capone

"So, I doubt there'll be many Prius or Civic taxis."

You might want to read this:

Mikhail Capone

Precision: I'm not saying that there'll be many, just that it's possible and has already been done.

What I'd like to see is Camry hybrids when they come out late 2006/early 2007 (?). Maybe Toyota could even do a "stretch" version.


Vancouver and Victoria have loads of Prius taxis, they make a lot of sense when compared to the traditional expensive guzzlers. People that want a large car will just have to request it in the future.



That's what I'm getting at... a "stretch" version, or even a hybrid the size of a Crown Vic (a common taxi in NYC) will be needed to get widescale acceptance of a hybrid taxi in New York, particularly for the very lucritive JFK and LaGuardia pickups.

Lance Funston

For rear seat room and luggage capacity, the Prius is surpisingly good. Not only that but the rear seat room is rated as comfortable as a Crown Vic, and the rear fore-aft measurement is 30 inches against 27.5 for the Crown Vic.

I would think that Civics and Accords are unlikely to ever show up as taxis because of the way the batteries cut down trunk space.


I'd like to see a reincarnation of the Checker. My grandfather drove one in the early 60s and the backseat was like a living room on wheels. Put in a series hybrid drivetrain and a composite body and taxis would be easy to get in and out of again.


I'm a bit frustrated at the fairly easy things the manufacturers could do that just don't seem to interest them. How hard would it be for Ford to offer a Crown Vic with idle stop and cylinder deactivation? Between taxi and police fleets (both of which, incidentally, spend a lot of time idling) nationwide, those two fairly simple features could probably save a lot of fuel.


London Taxi has incorporated Azure Dynamics series hybrid technology in their cabs. They are expected to reach commercialization sometime in 2006. Currently the non hybrid version of the London Taxi is nearing completion of testing for sale in New York City. Here's an excellent video on the subject.

Hopefully LTI's hybrid taxi will make the cut in NYC for 2007. Manganese Bronze has a strategy to assist the 100 largest cities in the world. Their hybrid taxi would make a significant contribution to improving air quality.


Or instead of waiting for 2007, can you get a London Taxi with the _diesel_ engine & run biodiesel in it?

little shop

Serial hybrid drive is a great choice for a NYC cab. It could provide huge power in bursts but would not need it that often. It would not need any real 'endurance' so a small engine generating power for a 200hp electric would do great. You could make it pretty large too, as it would recapture much of the power spent moving the large vehicle during breaking. The market used to be big enough for a specialty maker , with high gas prices NYC is probobly ready for a custom cab again.


Unfortunately, the London taxi (TX2) cost $50k+. I doubt you'll ever see taxi fleets in NYC acquiring these in any great numbers.


Why not the use the prius for New york taxis? Hybrid SUVs still use up a lot of gas... The prius is more effeicient and relevent to the original size of a cab today.

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