Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded Nissan a 10-year, $1 billion contract on Tuesday to produce the city's future yellow cabs — but some officials are already trying to put the brakes on production.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio and Assemblyman Micah Kellner are calling on City Comptroller John Liu to investigate the consultant the city used to help select a winner in the Taxi of Tomorrow design contest for possible conflicts of interest. The consultant, Ricardo Inc., has past dealings with finalists Nissan and Ford, they allege.
"As with all contracts, once we receive the submission, our office will conduct a through review. No contract will be registered unless all requirements have been met," said a spokesman for the comptroller.
Bloomberg is dismissing the claims as "ridiculous."
"We used the best consultants we could find," the mayor said. "We had community input. We had industry input. I don't think I've ever seen a process that's been run as well."
This new yellow cab — the Nissan NV200 — will have GPS, low-annoyance horn, transparent roof panel, mobile device charger and antibacterial seats. The automaker said it gets about 25 miles per gallon of gas. It will also be the first time taxis will be equipped with air bags.
The mayor and officials at the Taxi and Limousine Commission say they were concerned that the sticker price of the Karsan — about $40,000 — was too high compared to the $29,000 for the Nissan. There was also some doubt that the company might not be able to deliver on its 10-year contract because they weren't already outfitted to build these — even though they had vowed to produce them in Brooklyn.
The new taxis will begin to hit the streets by late 2013 and the Nissan will be the only cab in town by 2018, once the current 16 models are phased out.