Turkish car a finalist for NYC's Taxi of Tomorrow

A taxi crosses Times Square after a snowstorm blanketed the eastern United States with as much as a foot of snow, in New York March 2, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A futuristic Turkish taxi cab with a see-through roof for gazing at the skyline is among three finalists in New York City’s search for the “Taxi of Tomorrow.”

The model V1 by Turkish automaker Karsan Otomotiv made the short list along with models by Nissan Motor Co and Ford Motor Co, the city announced.

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission launched the “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition in 2007, searching for a fuel-efficient and wheelchair-accessible car to win an exclusive contract to provide cabs for at least 10 years. The city has not said how much the contact would be worth.

“The yellow cab is one of the most iconic symbols of New York City. Taxis have been an important part of our mass transit system and we are going to create a new taxi for our city that is safer, greener, and more comfortable than the ones we have today,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The Turkish model V1, which also features a wheelchair ramp that can reach the curb, has its advantages but will have to overcome a lack of experience in producing and selling vehicles in the United States, said David Yassky, chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The Ford entry, known as the Ford Transit Connect, is a compact van of the kind more commonly found in Europe. The Transit Connect was awarded the “North American Truck of the Year 2010” at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Nissan’s entry is similar to Ford’s in that it resembles a small van, based on Nissan’s NV200 model. Unlike the other two models, there are plans in the works to make it fully electric, Yassky said.

The city expects to announce the winner in early 2011 with the new vehicles on the road no later than 2014. The new taxis would be phased in as older models retire.

New York City has 13,237 licensed taxicabs with 16 different models from nine manufacturers.