Done your bit for the environment lately? You might have if you hailed a cab in New York recently. That’s because the city has jumped to the fore of the green revolution by converting its iconic—but gas-guzzling—yellow cabs into what will soon be the world’s biggest hybrid fleet.
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) introduced the first hybrids into their fleet of 13,000 three years ago; today there are about 500, though the numbers are growing quickly. Several 2008 Nissan (NSANY) Altima Hybrids joined the club and by 2012, every one of the city’s yellow taxis will be hybrids.
And that’s just the beginning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed that the city’s fleet of 10,000 livery, or so-called black cabs—typically gas-guzzling Lincoln (F) Town Cars—join their yellow (and now green) kin by 2013.
“It will be the largest, cleanest fleet of taxis anywhere on the planet,” Bloomberg said in announcing the initiative.
Aside from cutting down on carbon monoxide pollution, the new generation of taxis will save their owners about $5,000 in gas costs annually. With the price of oil settled north of the $100 mark, isn’t it time everyone got in on the act?The auto industry is investing heavily in hybrid and alternative-fuel technologies, with results that are rendering moot the arguments against buying hybrids: Their lack of power, higher sticker costs and diminished size and range.
“People are definitely interested in the hybrids, which is a significant shift,” says Aaron Bragman, an auto industry research analyst with Global Insight in Detroit. “The Prius outsold some other popular cars this year, which demonstrates a big consumer shift. As long as there’s no trade-off, they’re willing to accept these new kinds of technologies”