On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the new look that awaits travelers and residents – the new, New York City Nissan Minivan Taxi Cab.

The minivan approach offers extra legroom for passengers, as well as ample trunk space to hold the luggage of four travelers…or packages from a New York shopping spree.  The City Hall press conference featured Mayor Bloomberg presenting the new look, while admitting it might make some think of suburbia.  He emphasized that the distinctive yellow paint job will maintain the iconic New York taxi look.

“Not a week goes by when somebody doesn’t say to me, ‘Why can’t you bring back the Checker?'” he said. “The cars that are on the road today just have not generated the same type of affection and passenger loyalty.”

There are features of the new vehicle that Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky thinks will help passengers forget about the Checker Cabs.  They are equipped with panoramic overhead windows, offering tourists a view of the city’s skyline.  Travelers that land with spent batteries in their electronic devices will also be able to take advantage of onboard electrical outlets and charging stations.  They will also be equipped with GPS, minimizing concerns that passengers are being “taken for a ride.”

The Nissan van bettered proposals from Ford Motor Co. and Karsan Motors (Turkey).  The new cabs will start to surface in 2013 as current taxis leave service due to age.  The turnover will be complete by 2018, and was prompted in part by Ford’s Crown Victoria being discontinued.  Their 13,200 vehicles anchor the city’s current fleet of taxis.

While the changeover will eliminate the hybrid vehicles in the current lineup, the new vans will have the ability to convert to battery power.  City regulations did not allow fuel efficiency to enter into the final decision, but the Nissan vehicles will double fuel economy.  The Crown Victoria’s average 12 to 13 miles per gallon, while the vans will average 25.

Some local officials were unhappy with the final selection, as Karsan pledged to build the vehicles in Brooklyn. Bloomberg’s response included concerns with getting approval and building an automotive plant within two years.