May 29, 2012
Hailing the Taxi of Tomorrow
Q1. Why is Nissan extending its reach in the taxi business?
The taxi business has been, historically, something you do with second-hand vehicles or vehicles at the end of their life. Often it’s a not something you necessarily shout about.
What we think — and led by the brand statement of “Innovation and Excitement for Everyone” – taxis are under the mantra of everyone. It’s a way of appealing to people who drive or own motorcars, but also people who use motorcars as taxis.
We think it is entirely relevant that Nissan is in the taxi business. The question now is “Can you bring innovation to the taxi business or excitement to the taxi business?” Of course, we think we can. We’ve demonstrated it through the New York taxi in that we’ve taken a very innovative car – the NV200 – and we’ve adapted it to the requirements of the New York taxi Commission, basically answering each of their questions.
They wanted a car with a smaller footprint — we gave them a car with a smaller footprint. By the time this car is deployed across the entire fleet, we’ll have saved New Yorkers five acres of space – it’s huge.
They wanted better fuel economy — we’ve given them better fuel economy. They’re running around in Ford Victorias, but we’ve given them better fuel economy through down-sized engines.
They wanted better accessibility – we gave them sliding doors. They wanted to be able to see the city because it’s a beautiful city – we gave them a panoramic roof.
They wanted a safe vehicle, so we gave them airbags. We wanted to make sure that, even in a crash with the partition in place, that it was safe, so we crash tested.
Basically, we took each of the requirements of the customer and innovated against those requirements.
Q2. Is there a lot of interest from other markets for Taxi of Tomorrow?
It’s genuinely worldwide. We’re having requests to discuss [taxis] with us from huge taxi companies in India, Hong Kong, obviously the universal-design taxi in Japan, as well as from Indonesia, Mexico, cities in the U.S., and even down to London.
So, wherever there’s a taxi market we’re now starting to see interest thanks to the fact that the New York taxi is iconic around the world. If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere, as the song goes.
This has really been a great marketing platform for us. The opportunity is immense and it’s not just for the internal combustion engine version, but, and perhaps even more interestingly, for the electric version.
Q3. How does the NV200 fit into Nissan’s LCV expansion plans?
NV200 is really the foundation vehicle for all of our LCV activities. It’s the iconic vehicle of the Nissan range, partially because it’s a fully global vehicle.
You can see it anywhere. We manufacture it in Japan, China, India, Spain, Indonesia and Mexico – and maybe, before the end of its life, one or two other places as well.
It really is the foundation stone of a journey that we’ve been on for already ten years – going from being in light-commercial vehicles as a very small player to already over 1 million.
By the end of the mid-term plan, we aim to be over 2 million and the world’s biggest and No. 1 LCV manufacturer worldwide. As I say, this is really the foundation stone.