A globetrotting Japanese expat once told me he believed there was a Japanese expat pecking order. "The coolest kids move to London," he explained, "the second coolest, to New York. The third coolest move to L.A." (This last one delivered with an undertone of scorn.)
If his theorem can also be applied to Japanese automobiles, then Nissan is in pretty good shape. Their boxy NV200 won NYC's "Taxi of Tomorrow" competition (albeit amidst resistance) last year; now it's just won the "Taxi for London" title, and will begin rolling out there later this year.
The London-specific NV200 has received what Nissan is calling a "redesign," but which we take to mean a cosmetic makeover:
Nissan's newly redesigned taxi has been developed for London, in London, by Nissan Design Europe (NDE) in Paddington, the same design center responsible for the Qashqai and Juke...
...The London version's design is bespoke, reflecting the rich heritage and status of London's black cabs. Among the specific changes that have been made to the front of the NV200 taxi are:
- Round headlamps and a re-modeled grille mirroring the traditional black cab "face"
- LED lighting to improve visibility of the traditional taxi sign
- Completely new front bumper panels
Design Excellence Manager at NDE, Darryl Scriven, said: "Having already overcome the unique technical challenges presented by the development of a new Hackney Carriage for London ahead of our launch of the vehicle in August 2012, we turned our attention to making the vehicle look the part. The Mayor's office and taxi drivers were very keen that we maintain the character of the Hackney Carriage, making it something that people in the city can be proud of.
Here's a video look at what Londonites will be hailing come December:
That the NV200 will be gaining fleet status in both NYC and London is no accident; Nissan is making a concerted push towards official taxidom in several world cities, with Barcelona and Tokyo reportedly next in the crosshairs.