• Nissan NV200 is now the official taxi of New York

    September 6, 2015

    Though it has been on city streets since late 2013, the Nissan NV200 is now the official taxi of New York City.

    As of September 1, Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” is the sole new vehicle certified for use as a NY city taxi with the exception of a few hybrids and wheelchair-accessible vans. This means that taxi fleet operators now must replace any decommissioned cab with the NV200.

    With a total of about 13,600 taxis in the fleet, with 3,000 being replaced annually and only 20 percent of them hybrids and wheelchair-accessible, it quickly becomes clear how this could amount to a $1 billion deal for Nissan. The deal was not won without a hard-fought battle, however, as an association of taxicab medallion holders took to the courts to dispute the New York Tax and Limousine Commission’s selection of a single make and model. This June, however, the NY Supreme Court ruled in favor of the TLC.

    For what it’s worth, hybrid vehicles still allowed to serve as NY taxis include the Lexus RX 450h, Toyota Highlander, and Toyota Prius V. Wheelchair-accessible vehicles include the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Ford Transit Connect. Nissan is also working on an all-electric version of its cab. Currently about 750 Nissan NV200 taxis prowl the city streets, according to the NY Times (a number significantly lower than Nissan’s own estimate. In any case, expect to see a lot more soon.

  • Sony open to entering auto industry

    September 6, 2015

    Electronics giant Sony is open to the idea of entering the automaking field. If they decide to jump into an increasingly tech-heavy field that sees companies such as Apple and Google looking to carve out a slice, they may do so by partnering with an existing automaker.

    Sony already has plans to expand its camera sensors, currently used in smartphones, into cars. Recently, the company has made moves that expand its business into fields diverse as real estate and education, prompting the question about an automotive foray. Though CEO Kazuo Hirai said in an interview with the Financial Times, that “We don’t have plans at this point,” he added, “but never say never.”

    He also stated, “If we fundamentally believe at some point in time that we can make a difference in the automotive space, it’s something that we will look at,” and acknowledged that the emergence of electric cars such as Tesla have opened doors for news players in the auto industry. In addition to its sensors, Sony already has its toes in technologies such as lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and artificial intelligence used in helper robots similar to Honda’s ASIMO.

    Hirai also believes that newcomers to the auto industry have not sufficiently considered the “emotional value” that car buyers look for. Sony believes its consumer electronics do resonate emotionally with customers, and reiterated “never say never” when pressed about a tie-up with an existing automaker.