TOKYO -- Tokyo’s streetscape is about to get its biggest makeover in two decades, and just in time for the 2020 Olympics.
Toyota Motor Corp. says it will launch a next-generation taxi for Japan in 2018 -- a bulbous, hatchback hybrid.
The car promises to supplant the ubiquitous Toyota Crown Comfort three-box sedans that are as archetypal of Japanese taxis as their drivers’ officious hats and dainty white gloves.
And the new taxi, to be previewed as the JPN Taxi Concept at this week’s Tokyo Motor Show, will be just as idiosyncratic.
It starts with the huge greenhouse. A low beltline allows plenty of visibility for driver and passenger alike. And extra-tall side windows in back give tourists a panoramic view.
The car gets a low floor and wide-opening sliding doors. This assists barrier-free access and makes it easier to squeeze into the taxi on Japanese streets, where curb room is often a bare minimum with little clearance to swing a door all the way open.
In a nod to Toyota’s green DNA, the taxi is also a hybrid, like the flagship Prius. But unlike the Prius, the cab will run on electricity and liquefied petroleum gas, instead of gasoline.
That fuel is already widely used in Tokyo's taxi fleet.