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Transportation Nation

Judge: Taxi of Tomorrow Is Legal

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

An appeals court ruled that the city's plan to have a fleet composed entirely of Nissan vans can move forward.

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Transportation Nation

Electric Vehicles Have Best Sales Month Ever in June

Thursday, July 25, 2013

WNYC

There are now more than 100,000 electric vehicles on U.S. roads. A new report from the boosters at the Electrification Coalition hails increasing -- if still small -- EV sales and lays out some optimistic projections. 

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Transportation Nation

While Detroit Gains Ground, Japanese Automakers Stumble in China

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A Toyota dealership in Qingdao was burned by protestors in a dispute over an island chain claimed by both China and Japan.

(Paul Eisenstein - The Detroit Bureau) General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have ended 2012 with all-time sales records in China — but the news is nowhere near as good for Japanese makers.

Stung by a dispute between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have all suffered a sharp decline in sales in what has become the world’s largest automotive market.

While General Motors has yet to release its final figures for 2012, the maker already passed its previous peak by the end of November, the 2.59 million vehicles it sold for all of 2011. GM has set a goal of boosting sales in China to 5 million by mid-decade.

[Related story: GM Sets Another New Sales Record in China – And it’s Not Alone.]

Ford, meanwhile, has confirmed its sales in China rose 21% last year, to 626,616, also an all-time high. The maker was a relative latecomer to the Chinese market but has been aggressively expanding both its product portfolio and production capacity over the last several years.

“Record 2012 sales highlight the positive response our customers have for our full portfolio of high-quality, safe, fuel-efficient and smart vehicles,” John Lawler, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor China, said in a statement. “Their enthusiasm for Ford cars validates our aggressive plan to introduce 15 new vehicles, double production capacity and double our China dealership network — all by 2015.”

Chrysler has also been pushing into record territory, though its volumes have been much smaller than its cross-town rivals. That’s ironic because Chrysler was the first Western maker to build vehicles in China, or more precisely through its Jeep subsidiary. But its original operation was assumed by former partner Mercedes-Benz following the break-up of the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler AG.

[Related story: Chinese Reportedly Eyeing Stake in Daimler AG]

Under new partner Fiat SpA, Chrysler is again making an aggressive push to expand in China.

Japanese makers were also slow to enter the Chinese market, in part to long-standing enmity between the two nations dating back to Japan’s brutal occupation of its neighbor during World War II. That simmering disdain came back to a boil when the Japanese government decided to buy what it calls the Senkoku Island chain last September.

That set off rioting in China, the bigger nation also laying claim to what it calls the Daioyu Islands. A number of Japanese-owned vehicles were destroyed and a Toyota dealership was even torched in what many observers believe were government-tolerated, if not sanctioned, riots.

Japanese industry executives had previously telegraphed the likelihood of declining sales in China which, they also cautioned, would hurt their earnings for the rest of the 2012 fiscal year – which closes on March 31, 2013.

Nissan took the biggest hit, sales declining 5.3% for calendar-year 2012, to 1.2 million vehicles. Nissan has been the most aggressive of the Japanese makers operating in China, among other things setting up the new Venucia brand with its partner there, Donfeng Motors.

Toyota suffered a 4.9% drop in volume last year, to 840,000. Honda’s China sales slipped 3.1%, to 599,000. Prior to the dispute over the Senkoku/Daioyu Islands, Toyota had expected to see a 10% jump in sales in China, reaching 1 million for the first time.

The market for Japanese products has begun to improve, Toyota China spokesman Niu Yu telling the Wall Street Journal, “Sales are getting better day by day, but it’s still hard to say when we can get back to the pre-protest level,” said.

But it’s unclear how quickly there will be a full recovery. Nissan, for example, suffered a 41% drop in demand in October, shortly after the dispute began, but sales were still off 24%, year-over-year, in December.

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Transportation Nation

Europe Slow to Warm Up to Electric Cars

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A charging station in Berlin (photo by Kate Hinds)

Europe is home to expensive gas, a growing wind farm industry and aggressive carbon reduction goals.  But so far, when it comes to electric cars, il n'y a pas d'amour -- pas encore.

Transportation ministers and industry leaders, speaking last week at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany, said government subsidies and ever-increasing numbers of charging stations aren't yet enticement enough to convince European consumers.

Case in point: Sergio Monteiro, Portugal's Secretary of State for Public Works, Transport and Communications, said his country is laying the groundwork for EVs -- but so far his fellow citizens aren't buying.

"We have more than 1,300 charging points," he said, adding that Portugal is also financially incentivizing the purchase of EVs. "The average cost (of an electric car) is around 35,000 euros in Portugal, and we have a reduction of five thousand euros subsidized by the state."

But, said Monteiro, "we only managed to sell 200 vehicles last year." And 60 of those went to government administrators.

Monteiro dusted off a phrase uttered by the Irish transport minister earlier that day.  "It was like the field of dreams," he said. "You have the infrastructure, then services would come. That was not the case." He added that it was "living proof that infrastructure can only do so much -- you need to break a number of barriers." And chief among them is cost. Even with a 5,000 euro reduction, Monteiro said, EVs are too expensive for the average Portuguese citizen navigating austerity measures.

The wait for lower prices may be a decade away. Nissan vice president Mitsuhiko Yamashita said it usually takes ten years to reduce the price of new technologies by half. He used airbags as an example, saying it now cost automakers as much to put six airbags in a vehicle today as it did to include two a decade ago. "We can do the same thing for the EV, but...it takes maybe five to ten years, ten years on average. But during that time frame, I'd like to expect some type of support from the government."

While some European countries offer subsidies to purchase EVs, not all do.

Another issue hampering EV adoption is standardization. Europe is home to multiple electrical grids, and different EVs have different plugs. Pat O'Doherty, the CEO of Ireland's Electricity Supply Board, said "I should be able to drive my electric vehicle from Dublin in the future, down through Britain and charge it, down through France and into the South of Spain." He added that even the technology governing payment systems at public charging stations differs from place to place.

Yamashita later said ruefully "that's my headache at this moment."

Nissan launched the all-electric Leaf at the end of 2010, but so far sales have been underwhelming. Yamashita tried to put a good face on it. "We already sold more than 27,000 vehicles worldwide as of the beginning of April," he said. "Thirteen thousand in Japan, 11,000 in the U.S...We just started sales in Europe but we've sold 3,000."

Those are stark numbers, and it doesn't look much better when you read reports that Nissan wants to sell 20,000 to 25,000 of them in Europe in 2012. The company is trying to boost sales by moving production to the U.K., which will lower costs, and also redesign it in order to appeal to European tastes.

One bright spot for the Leaf, though, can be found in Norway, where 1,000 of them were sold in six months.

But on a large scale, "it will only work if the customer benefits financially," said O'Doherty. He said the Nissan Leaf had been selling better in Ireland since Nissan had knocked 5,000 euros off the price.

Watch a video of the conversation at the ITF summit below.

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Transportation Nation

New Yorkers Check out Taxi of Tomorrow

Sunday, April 08, 2012

It's roomy...but also boxy. Those are some assessments of New Yorkers who got to check out the  'Taxi of Tomorrow," unveiled this week with much fanfare. The Nissan minivan has been chosen by city officials be the cab for the next decade, beginning next year as older cabs are retired.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked the tires with Nissan execs Tuesday night, as the press was treated to cocktails and hors d‘oeuvres while they inspected the vehicle.

But at the New York International Auto on Friday, potential passengers got to see for the first time the taxi that will shuttle them home in the wee hours or take them cross town when they’re late for a meeting for the next decade.

The  NV200 model attracted a small crowd.

Myles Simmons from Manhattan looked closely at the prototype on display. He said he appreciated many of the next taxi’s features.

"I do like that there's leg room, I like that you have personal climate controls in the back, and that there's the USB ports where you can charge things," he said.

He did wonder why the minivan couldn’t fit wheelchairs.

Brooklyn’s Eddie Fernandez said part of the reason he came to the auto show was to look at the taxi. “I wanted to see exactly what it looked like up close before they put it on the street.”

Fernandez said the larger size will come in handy for New Yorkers who schlep around tons of stuff. “A lot of people have baby carriages, or luggage, they carry big bags around with I-Pads and all of their electronics, so I like that,” he said.

But others like Brooklyn's Orlando Vargas didn't approve of the boxy shape of the Nissan. Vargas would have preferred something sportier.

"This is just too cargo-y, just like a delivery van in a way, a yellow delivery van," he said.

The  NV200 will retail for $29,700 when it goes on sale in 2013.

The brighter yellow cabs of the near future will be on display at the Javits Center until April 15.

Getting a closer look at the city's next taxi
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Transportation Nation

Slideshow: New York's "Taxi of Tomorrow" on Display at New York Auto Show

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Nissan NV200 -- picked last year to be New York's "Taxi of Tomorrow" -- is making its public debut Friday at the New York International Auto Show.

It will be phased into the fleet beginning in October 2013. The city expects it to replace all other cab models by 2018. Check it out below.

The city's choice of the Nissan is enraging everyone from disability rights activists to lawmakers upset with the company's business ties to Iran. A class action lawsuit, calling on the city to make all cabs wheelchair accessible, is wending its way through the courts system. Meanwhile, a photoshopped image of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad riding shotgun in the new taxi is being tweeted by NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

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Transportation Nation

Taxis Are So Hot: Nissan Uses NYC Cab as Ad Model

Monday, March 26, 2012

(Soterios Johnson, WNYC -- New York) New York City's "Taxi of Tomorrow" will be making a kind of early appearance starting this week.

Nissan, the maker of the city's next model taxicab, said it will be using the boxy van in an ad campaign to help brand the company as innovators to be showcase the company's innovation.

Last year, Nissan's NV200 van won the city's design competition for all new New York City yellow cabs, which are expected to hit city streets next year.

Among the taxi's novel features are passenger airbags designed to work around the partition, exterior alert lights when a door is opened, independent passenger climate controls and more cargo room than a large sedan.

The car company’s advertising campaign will include huge billboards throughout the city around town, social media outreach and signs on existing taxi rooftops. It will also tie in the company's launch of five new vehicles over the next 15 months.

One of the other aims of the campaign is to get people to visit one of the new taxis at next month's New York International Auto Show.

Nissan's confidence in attaching its brand so closely with the city is seen as a sign of how big a draw New York has become for advertisers.

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Transportation Nation

Nissan's Leaf Can Now Power Your House

Friday, August 05, 2011

(Photo: Nissan)

Nissan unveiled a new charging system for its all-electric Leaf this week. The difference with this charger is that the car can power the house, not just the other way around. That's a big step forward in realizing the full potential of electric vehicles.

One of the long-promised benefits of widespread adoption of electric cars is that they could make our electric grid more efficient by acting as storage capacity for excess energy. For the most part, power grids are designed to meet peak demand, which is during the day. There is usually excess capacity at night.

Cars plugged in at night could fill their batteries to the brim. Those batteries could then deliver some of that power back to the grid during the day, easing the strain on power generation facilities and reducing the overall demand. That's called vehicle-to-grid technology. If it ever works en masse, it would also make the system more adaptable to fluctuating demand, and greener.

The Nissan Leaf's lithium-ion battery can store 24kwh, enough to power the average Japanese home for 2 days, according to the company.

So called grid-integrated electric cars have been around for years, but we haven't yet seen the newest generation of EVs like the Leaf and Chevy Volt roll out and promote the technology. This Leaf charger was unveiled at Nissan's Kan-kan-kyo demonstration house outside company headquarters in Yokohama, Japan. The company touted the technology as "part of its comprehensive efforts toward the realization of a zero-emission society."

Nissan is still working out how to integrate the charger with existing commercial grid systems. According to the University of Delaware a grid-integrated electric vehicle could earn between $1,000 and $5,000 a year for its owner as a power storage device for electric utilities.

Via PSFK

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Transportation Nation

But Will The Taxi Of Tomorrow Have Wi-Fi?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

(photo courtesy of @NissanNews)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) If the open laptop featured in this photo Nissan tweeted earlier today, the answer could be yes. (Of course, the person using this laptop would have to be seated under the dashboard, facing the back of the van, but that's neither here nor there.) We do know, from the press release, that the taxi will have charging stations for mobile devices.

More pictures of the Nissan taxi can be found here.  You can see a video of it here.

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Transportation Nation

Nissan Picked As NYC's "Taxi of Tomorrow"

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Nissan's design for NYC's Taxi of Tomorrow

WNYC's Kathleen Horan is reporting the Taxi of Tomorrow will be Nissan -- and already there are calls for an investigation of a conflict of interest in the contract-letting. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Assembly member Micah Kellner are calling for an investigation -- their letter to NYC Comptroller John Liu is after the jump.  Karsan -- one of the losing entrants (the other was Ford) had promised, if selected, to build its taxis in Brooklyn.  It had one of the most intriguing designs (moon roof, sleek lines), but city officials had expressed concerns about the Turkish company's ability to fulfill the contract.

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WNYC News

Mayor Set to Unveil New Taxi of Tomorrow Design

Monday, May 02, 2011

WNYC

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to reveal the automaker that won the Taxi of Tomorrow design competition — and that will be responsible for creating a taxi model that will serve the city for the next decade as the 16 models currently in use are phased out.

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WNYC News

Wannabe Taxi-Maker Vows to Build Cabs in Brooklyn

Monday, April 25, 2011

WNYC

One of the three automakers in the running to provide the city's yellow cabs for the next decade is vowing to build the cars in Brooklyn.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Japanese Automakers Release March Earnings, and NY's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' Could Be Built in Brooklyn

Monday, April 25, 2011

Japanese automakers release March numbers -- the first hard numbers since the earthquake and tsunami.  (The Takeaway)

Denver is pairing transit and development. (Denver Post)

A NYT op-ed piece compares the president's current plan for high-speed rail to the building of the transcontinental railroads in the 1800s; the writer says that both sacrificed public good for private gain. (NYT)

Not all of NYC's bicyclists are happy with the new bike lanes. (Wall Street Journal)

The St. Louis airport is operating at 85% after tornado damage.

A contender for New York's "Taxi of Tomorrow" says that if it wins the contract, it will build its vehicles in Brooklyn. (NY1)

After years of planning, Birmingham (MI) pulls out of a transit plan with neighboring Troy. (Detroit Free Press)

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

- Membership in DC's Capital Bikeshare nearly doubles after an online coupon deal (Link)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: EV Sales Boost US Economy, NJ Highways "Deficient," and Amtrak Sets Ridership Record

Friday, April 08, 2011

Chevy Volt (Photo: GM)

Are sales of electric vehicles behind the growth in the US economy? (The Takeaway)

Toyota and Nissan restart production (Marketplace).

The nuclear disaster in Japan could undermine support for nuclear power here in the US -- and build support for natural gas. (NPR)

A new report says half of New Jersey's highways are deficient. (AP via the Star-Ledger)

More on New York's parking placards in the NY Daily News and NY Times.

Can smartphones -- with commuting apps -- get people out of cars and onto public transit? (Wired)

Amtrak says it's on track for record ridership. (The Hill)

Will a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons spur economic development -- or acres of empty parking lots? (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Los Angeles Metro launched what it says is the nation's first major public transit agency's Spanish language blog (The Source). Called El Pasajero, the blog formally launches today.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: NY Gov. Cuomo tightens parking placard rules; Caltrain isn't slashing service...yet; traffic light timing is adjusted in Central Park's loop; Dulles's Metrorail link answers the question 'over or under?,' and: how much high-speed rail will $2.4 billion buy?

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Japan Trying to Get A Handle on Infrastructure Damage, LA Passes Sweeping Bus Service Cuts, and Boston Band Powers Concerts with Bikes

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nearly two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, engineers still do not know the full extent of damage to roads, bridges, rail lines and other infrastructure. (NY Times)

Meanwhile, Toyota is warning factories and dealers in North America that production delays are coming, while Nissan is looking for ways around its factory closures in Japan by flipping the supply chain around. (Marketplace)

The Los Angeles MTA approved sweeping bus service cuts, eliminating nine lines and reducing 11. Officials say they are still providing adequate service while making the bus system more efficient; critics say L.A.'s low-income residents will be hurt the most. (Los Angeles Times)

WNYC looks at the 2010 New York census map.

A Boston-based band uses bikes to power their concerts. "One person can sustain about 100 watts without breaking too much of a sweat. Five people can amass enough wattage to power a small live show." (WBUR)

City-funded parking garages at Yankees Stadium have become a "financial swamp for taxpayers," writes a NYDN columnist. "Ever since it opened...two years ago, the 9,000-space parking system has operated at barely 60% capacity, even on game days. Meanwhile, its operating expenses have run twice what was expected."

NJ Transit paid nearly $3.6 million for unused vacation and sick time last year -- even as it raised fares and cut service. Gov. Christie says the agency should go to a 'use it or lose it' policy. (Asbury Park Press)

The Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission made a $10 million commitment to a new $50 million revolving fund for loaning money to developers to build affordable housing near rail stations and bus stops. (San Jose Mercury News)

The Ohio Senate voted to pass a measure banning signs that tout federal stimulus spending along Ohio's roadways. (AP via BusinessWeek)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: As massive bus cuts loom, Long Islanders get emotional at a hearing. A NYC deputy mayor goes on the BL Show to defend the city's bike lane program -- and voice support for the city's transportation commissioner. And: after reports that a former DC Metro employee left the agency to become a lobbyist, the agency's board put the brakes on a contract.

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Transportation Nation

New York City Picks Finalists for Taxis of Tomorrow -- You Can Vote!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Here's one-- there are three other "Taxi of Tomorrow Finalists:  Click here for the others --

From the Press Release: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner/Chairman David S. Yassky today unveiled the three finalists to be the new, exclusive New York City taxicab. The competition, called the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” will introduce the first-ever custom-built taxicab specifically designed for New York City. The Taxi of Tomorrow project includes a public input campaign where New Yorkers can vote of the features they want to see in the next New York City taxicab. The winning vehicle will be the exclusive New York City taxicab for a minimum of ten years and will be chosen from among several competitive proposals. The three designs selected as the finalists to be the Taxi of Tomorrow are submissions from Ford Motor Company, Karsan USA and Nissan North America, Inc.

Love 'em? Hate 'em?  Vote here

And send us your comments!

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Transportation Nation

Nissan Recalling Two Million Vehicles

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(Jerome Vaughn, WDET—Detroit) Nissan is recalling more than two million vehicles worldwide for an issue that could lead to engines stalling.  The recall affects more than a dozen models from the 2003 through 2006 model years, including selected Nissan Xterra sport utility vehicles, Titan pickup trucks, and Infinity QX56 SUVs.

About 750,000 of the vehicles were produced in the US.  Others were manufactured in Japan and Europe. A faulty electrical relay for the engine control module could cause the engine to stall.
Nissan says no accidents have been reported in connection with the issue.Dealers will make repairs at no cost to consumers.  Affected owners will be notified by mail.

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