Painted Black, Nissan NV200 Taxi Is Poised for London Duty

The Nissan NV200 van, the same model chosen to be New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow, was announced on Monday for service in London.

In its new livery, the NV200 seems instantly more dignified and solid than its yellow cousin. Call it a rolling testament to the power of black paint.

Nissan says the van, with sliding doors and seating for five, meets all requirements, however esoteric, laid down by London’s transport office. Among these is a 25-foot turning radius that, like so many things British, is grounded in legend and custom, ostensibly deriving from the dimensions of the tight rotary at the entrance to the Savoy Hotel.

Though some advocates for disabled passengers in New York criticized the Nissan for lacking a full-scale wheelchair ramp and complete access, advocacy groups in London have endorsed the new London design, according to a press release from Nissan.

As in New York, Nissan plans to conduct a field test next year of purely electric versions of the taxi.
A significant distinction between the London cab and its American counterpart is the use of a diesel power plant. The New York version uses a 2-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine, while the London unit, displacing 1.5 liters, is said by Nissan to hold a 50 percent advantage in fuel efficiency over the city’s traditional black cabs.

In America, opposition to diesel emissions remains strong. The World Health Organization recently classified diesel fumes as a carcinogen. Nissan has long built diesel engines for the London taxi, and members of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association have expressed their enthusiasm for the 2.7-liter diesel unit supplied by Nissan for an earlier version of their traditional black cab, the TX4. Nissan expects the predicted reductions in carbon emissions and improvements in fuel economy to win over the skeptics.

“The NV200 London Taxi’s Euro V engine only emits up to 138g/km of CO2, compared with 209g/km from the ‘greenest’ TX4 model,” Nissan said in its release.

The new engine would enable the mayor, Boris Johnson, whose administration has already updated the Routemaster double-decker bus, to present the new taxi as part of his air quality improvement program.

“Improving air quality in London is one of the most important challenges I face as mayor,” Mr. Johnson said in the statement issued by Nissan. “Having taken the significant step of introducing the first age limit for taxis in London, I am absolutely delighted that manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and are responding to the challenge I set in my air quality strategy to reduce taxi emissions and improve efficiency.”

“Stepping up to the plate?” Something doesn’t seem quite cricket about that line.