Next time you hop in a New York City yellow taxicab, it might be more silent, luxurious, and a good bit quicker than the Ford Crown Victorias or Nissan NV200s you’re used to. Why? Because it could be a Tesla Model 3.
In another achievement for the California automaker, the Model 3 has been approved for taxi service in New York City. That happened after review by the city’s official Taxi & Limousine Commission, which deemed the car worthy and capable of shuttling passengers around the Big Apple.
Like all other approved vehicles, the Model 3 will be modified for service. Outside, it’ll get bright yellow paint, official decals, and an illuminated roof sign to signify its working role. Inside, a partition will be mounted to separate the first and second rows, and cameras installed to monitor driver and passenger safety; the standard exterior cameras will stay in place. Presumably a rate-calculating taximeter must also be fitted, which may slightly obstruct the Model 3’s 17-inch infotainment display. Perhaps with enough demand Tesla will create a software-based taximeter to be installed in the vehicle via over-the-air update.
New York City taxis must wear a medallion indicating their official certification by the Commission. The Model 3 will get an “unrestricted” medallion, meaning it doesn’t need extra accessibility accommodations like some larger vans and SUVs. However, interestingly, it also won’t get an “alternative fuel” medallion like many approved hybrid vehicles.
Taxicabs are some of the hardest-working vehicles on earth. The big question with the Model 3 is if it has what it takes to match its conventional and hybrid counterparts. With range of up to 310 miles, the vehicle’s battery provides plenty of juice for cross-town trips. Still, drivers will need to be more calculated in where and when they recharge. There are currently five official Supercharger stations in Manhattan, with a handful scattered in the outer boroughs, and dozens of destination chargers dispersed throughout the city. Regardless, time spent at a charging station is time spent off the road.
Nonetheless, the Model 3’s approval as the first modern all-electric New York City taxicab is a milestone in electric transportation. It shows electric vehicles continue to rise to the forefront of urban mobility, and are capable of tough duty in the big city. Though Tesla’s New York City taxicab nod is a huge step for electric cars, the Model 3 actually isn’t the first all-electric taxi in New York. The first electric cabs appeared way back in 1890s as replacements for the more conventional horse-drawn cabs of the day. They lasted through most of the first decade of the 20th century.
With that said, the Tesla Model 3 is the first all-electric car in roughly 100 years to be approved for NYC taxi duty, which is still something to celebrate. Reduced noise and zero tailpipe emissions are valuable in dense metropolitan centers, but the Model 3 could bring a bit of zippy fun to the taxi experience, too. Try to flag one down next time you’re in New York.
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