NYC Electric Taxis Provoke Charging Station Debate

The choice of Nissan to supply electric vehicles (EVs) to be used as cabs in New York City has provoked a debate over the type of fast-charging stations the city will install.

The city’s administration has already contracted the Japanese automaker to deliver a fleet of fuel-efficient cabs, including six of its Nissan Leaf EVs for testing.

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image via New York City Administration

Nissan wants the city to adopt its charging standard, known as CHAdeMo, which is also backed by Mitsubishi.

However, debate is still ongoing as to whether New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration will install fast-charging stations compatible with the Nissan standard or whether it will back another competing system called Combo backed by General Motors and European automakers.

The city faces a stark choice because the two systems use different plugs and are incompatible.

Six Nissan Leaf EV taxi cabs were set to go into service this Spring as part of the city’s Electric Taxi Pilot Program. Owner-drivers and fleet operators selected for the pilot program each get a leased Leaf, at no cost, for up to a year.

Last year Mayor Bloomberg announced that the Nissan NV200 had been selected as the winner of the two-year “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition. The car will be the first taxi specifically built for New York, and the city’s first exclusive cab in over a decade.

The debate over charging stations won’t effect the initial rollout of the NV200 since the first phase of cabs will be gas-powered.

The new taxis are set to hit the city streets in 2013. The NV200 will begin to be manufactured for all-electric mode in 2017. Survey results of taxi riders in New York found that environmental sustainability was the top priority, beating passenger comfort and safety in order of importance.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.

    • OK So let’s say NYC decide to go with the SAE Combo. Good luck with that. There are NO vehicles on the roads anywhere on this planet that can accept that connector. The EV taxis running around NYC will not be able to use them.

      The logical thing to do is to specify the quick chargers must be upgradable to the SAE Combo plugs at a later date when vehicles come out that will use it. Several manufacturers have announced ‘dual standard’ quick chargers.