From NY Times by Micheal M. Grynbaum
An icon of the urban landscape, the humble yellow cab is set to undergo an unprecedented face-lift — perhaps the biggest change to the city’s street aesthetic since licensed cabs were required to be painted yellow in 1970.
The Bloomberg administration on Monday unveiled three finalists in its competition to replace the current taxis, a mishmash of sedans, minivans and hybrid sport utility vehicles, with a single City Hall-approved model.
By 2014, when the first new vehicles are expected to appear, the city’s taxis will bear more resemblance to the oblong, obsolete Checker cab than the fleet’s current stalwart, the Ford Crown Victoria, which is to be discontinued next year.
All three competing designs, submitted by Ford, Nissan and the Turkish manufacturer Karsan, have the bulky appearance of a minivan. Gone is the cramped legroom of a hybrid car: these interiors feature generously sized backseats and, in Karsan’s case, a rear-facing drop seat to encourage conversation among passengers (that, or motion sickness).
The winner of the contest will receive the exclusive right to supply the cabs for the city’s fleet of just over 13,000 taxis for at least a decade. Taxi officials said the contract could have an overall potential value of $1 billion.