Not long ago New York City replaced its iconic fleet of Checker Marathon taxi cabs with standard, American sedans. Sacrificing a back seat built for six, the Crown Victorias were still branded in classic cab yellow.
Mayor Bloomberg recently announced the release of a new icon, and that New York City's fleet of more than 13,000 taxis will be replaced with...a Nissan minivan? Beating out bids by Ford and Karsan, the Japanese auto maker will be making the minivans in Mexico and branding them in New York.
While the roomy vans will accommodate five passengers, the choice says a lot about a top American city's opinion of its own auto industry.
True, if Bloomberg went with Ford they would have been built oversees, but couldn't they find more than three options? I mean certainly if the Turkish made Karsan was a contender, where were Chevrolet and Chrysler? London's Hackney Carriage still wears the British Austin brand, and the UK's auto industry has a worse reputation than ours'?
New York has money. With a dedicated fleet of 13,200 and growing, all requiring maintenance and upgrades, how about starting an independent auto company dedicated to cab development and rebuilding one of the region's struggling post industrial towns?
As gas prices skyrocket and less and less people purchase cars across the country, there's a market for this. The Nissan is a cheap and shortsighted option that sends needed money overseas.
Bring back the Checker. It's a cab, it doesn't need to be aerodynamic. Stream line it, make it fuel efficient and safe, and distribute it across the nation, creating jobs here.