N.Y. taxi owners to fight Nissan's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' in court of appeals

Nissan won a New York contract in 2011 valued at $1 billion over 10 years to supply more than 15,000 minivans with sliding doors, more luggage space and airbags in the back, for the city's taxi fleet.

NEW YORK -- New York taxi fleet operators won permission to hail a ride to Albany to challenge the city's $1 billion plan for the "Taxi of Tomorrow," a new fleet of cabs from Nissan Motor Corp., before the state's top court.

An appellate court in Manhattan that declared the plan legal in June today authorized the fleet operators to contest that ruling at the Court of Appeals in the state capital.

Nissan won a contract in 2011 valued at $1 billion over 10 years to supply more than 15,000 minivans with sliding doors, more luggage space and airbags in the back, for the city's taxi fleet.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in September 2012 designated the Nissan NV200 as the official "Taxi of Tomorrow" and required owners of medallions, which confer the right to operate yellow cabs in New York, to buy the $29,700 vehicles.

Taxi fleet operators sued the city in December 2012 seeking to block the requirement, and a judge halted the program five months later, saying it violated the administrative code because it didn't allow medallion owners to buy hybrid vehicles.

The city then revised the rules to let medallion owners buy hybrids until Nissan develops a hybrid version of the NV200.

The operators sued again in July 2013, and a judge blocked the plan from going forward, saying the commission exceeded its authority under the city charter by requiring the purchase of a specific vehicle.

Steven G. Mintz, an attorney with Mintz & Gold representing the fleet operators, and the city's Law Department were not immediately available for comment.

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