Photo: Vinoodh Chandar

Today, New Yorkers can hail Nissan's NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow – a safer, more comfortable, user-friendly taxi designed and engineered especially for them. This would not have been possible without the pioneering efforts of the Design Trust. 


The Taxi of Tomorrow is the result of a groundbreaking series of strategic, design-driven initiatives, ranging from our innovative workshops and sweeping exhibition of vehicle prototypes, to the first strategic plan for the NYC taxi system. From spearheading the amicus brief, to testifying in front of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and the Transportation Committee of the New York City Council in support of the Taxi of Tomorrow, Design Trust has played an instrumental role in reaching this historic moment for New York.


In early 2008, as a direct result of our Taxi 07 project, initiated by Paul Herzan of the Lily Auchincloss Foundation in partnership with the Design Trust for Public Space, the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission launched the Taxi of Tomorrow competition to pursue the creation of a new iconic taxi for New York City. This international competition called for a purpose-built vehicle with superior safety and environmental standards, reduced vehicle and lifestyle costs, enhanced ride quality, improved durability, and accessibility. The Design Trust served as an advisor to the TLC on the development and implementation of the Taxi of Tomorrow program and then as a design advisor to Nissan on the development of the vehicle. 

Following the goals the Design Trust identified in Taxi 07: Roads Forwardthe Taxi of Tomorrow competition called for a purpose-built taxicab with increased safety and environmental standards, reduced vehicle and lifestyle costs, iconic design elements and enhanced ride quality, durability, and accessibility. After TLC narrowed down competition finalists to Ford, Karsan, and Nissan, the Design Trust worked with the agency to roll out an interactive public survey in October of 2010, asking every taxi passenger which features were most important to them. Over 23,000 New Yorkers participated in the survey, incentivized by the opportunity to win a year of free taxi rides, a prize sponsored by the Design Trust. 

In May 2011, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the NV200, designed by Nissan North America Inc., was the winner of the Taxi of Tomorrow competition. Recognizing the Design Trust's pioneering role to bring innovation to the New York City taxi vehicle, Nissan engaged the Design Trust as a design advisor to the development of the NV200. Over the next two years, Deputy Director Megan Canning attended all key design reviews at Nissan's design headquarters in San Diego, CA and test runs of the new taxi in NYC. Smart Design Founder and CEO Davin Stowell also served as an outside design advisor on the project, creating the updated NYC taxi identity and iconography and providing significant pro-bono support to Nissan and the City of New York. 


With the NV200, every taxi driver and passenger will enjoy superior safety, increased comfort and amenities, and improved durability—a tremendous improvement to transportation in the city. Many of the features of the NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow were first proposed by the Design Trust (starting with our 2005 exhibition and publication "Designing the Taxi" and then developed further for our 2007 exhibit at the NY Intl. Auto Showincluding: 

  • a legible roof light for clear communication
  • flat floor for ease of entry and exit
  • lights to indicate passenger exits for oncoming  vehicles and cyclists
  • sliding passenger doors will not interfere with  other traffic or street activity
  • clear, panoramic sunroof
  • greener interior materials
  • one integrated partition for passenger services
  • passenger air bags
  • customized driver area
  • separate climate control for passenger area 
The vehicle officially hit the streets of NYC in October 2013, garnering enthusiasm from taxi drivers and passengers alike for its spacious, comfortable and custom-tailored interior, smooth ride, and separate climate controls for the passenger compartment, as well as its large sunroof. Soon after the NV200 was put into service, however, a group of taxi fleet owners filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, arguing that the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) did not have the authority to mandate the Nissan NV200 be the "official taxicab vehicle" for all unrestricted medallion holders. This legal battle went on for nearly two years in the courts until the New York State Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in favor of the Taxi of Tomorrow program on June 25, 2015, stating: 

"The broad authority granted to the TLC allows for the designation of a single vehicle model that was specifically designed -- through a lengthy public process -- to be a taxi. The choice of the best possible vehicle for use as a taxi plainly fits within the purposes of the TLC to develop and improve taxi service as part of the City's overall public transportation." Read the Court's decision.

On September 1, 2015, the Nissan NV200 (a.k.a. Taxi of Tomorrow) became New York City's yellow cab standard. This is a victory for drivers and riders comfort and safety, for the City as a whole, but also for thoughtful and user-centered design. It is projected that the Taxi of Tomorrow will represent about 80% of total cabs over the next ten years. We’re excited to see the ‘future streets’ of NYC completely transformed with one entire fleet of taxi cabs. At Design Trust, we’re committed to turning ideas into actions and will continue our collaborative work to improve public space.

The Design Trust's Taxi 07 project was the genesis of the Taxi of Tomorrow program.

Matthew Daus, NYC Taxi & Limousine Commisioner (2001-10)

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