Hail the Cab of the Future: NYC Selects Nissan Van As New Official Taxi

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Nissan / AP

The Nissan NV200

The iconic Crown Vic is driving off into the sunset. And NYC is looking to Japan for its official cab.

It’s yellow, and it’s about to be on every New York City street. That’s about all that the new Nissan NV200 has in common with the city’s current yellow cabs.

The NV200 may resemble a soccer mom’s minivan, but it’s all about the creature comforts. In the boxy van, passengers can charge their phones and iPods, control their own air conditioning, and even gaze through the transparent roof at the New York City skyline above. The van is fully electric to help conform to environmental protocols and will come at a cost of $29,000 to cabbies who are seeking to upgrade their current models.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of new hybrid cars for 2011)

Nissan was named the official taxi supplier after a nearly four-year process to find the “Taxi of Tomorrow.” The NV200 beat out other quite tame proposals from Ford – the maker of the old standard Crown Victoria – and Turkish carmaker Karsan (who?). All took a minivan form as part of the city’s desire in its Taxi of Tomorrow competition, that was seeking a new vehicle that was “comfortable, iconic, accessible and ‘green’ – without sacrificing ease of use and durability.”

As part of the deal, Nissan received a 10-year contract to produce the official vehicle for all 13,000 yellow cabs in New York City. The deal is worth an estimated $1 billion for the auto manufacturer, which will become the official supplier after a rather lax time for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, which has allowed 16 simultaneous operational models in the past few years.

The van will become part of the fleet of 13,000 NYC cabs as the current Crown Vics and other models begin to wear out. We’ll start hailing this particular model in 2013.

(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 green buildings of 2011)

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