Popular Support for Hybrid Cabs in NYC
A survey conducted by Global Strategy Group last week shows that "seven in ten New Yorkers say it is important to make the switch [to hybrid taxis] now, and a majority report that even sacrificing a few inches of legroom or interior space would make no difference in their support for cleaner air cabs. Two-thirds of taxi riders and majorities of voters from both political parties throughout the city said they would be more likely to support a candidate who endorsed hybrid taxis." Not surprisingly, air pollution comes far ahead of other environmental concerns to New Yorkers with over half of those surveyed ranking it first.Hybrid cars, which reduce up to 90% of traditional vehicle emissions, could significantly help New York City reduce air pollution. Moreover, there are hybrid cars on the market -- such as the Ford Escape -- that promise twice the fuel efficiency of the Ford Crown Victoria, which comprises more than 93% of the city's taxi fleet today.
An even better fit than Escapes would probably be the Camry hybrids by Toyota that will come out in a bit more than a year (or maybe Altima hybrids by Nissan?). In any case, the kind of stop & go city driving that a taxi does is exactly what full hybrids (maybe even supercapacitor hybrids in the future) excel at; with high-torque electric motors that make accelerating from a stop easy and less wasteful, electric-only mode for short distances, idle-stop (engines shuts down when vehicle is stopped) and regenerative breaking cutting losses of efficiency due to the constant waiting around for lights to change and traffic jams to end.
It would also be interesting to know how many miles/kilometers a NYC taxi drives per day on average. Maybe it is within the range (or future range) of electric vehicles?
But things are not so simple since a bill that would permit hybrid vehicles to meet regulatory specifications for license by the Taxi and Limousine Commission is stalling in the Transportation committee. We'll try to follow that one and see how it develops.