NEW YORK– The New York City (NYC) Taxi and Limousine Commission has unanimously approved a regulation requiring that, as of Jan. 1, 2009, all black car vehicles coming into service must be capable of achieving a city mileage rating of 25 miles per gallon. The city's 10,000 black cars service corporate clientele, according to the Environment News Service.

One year later, as of Jan. 1, 2010, all new black car vehicles must have a minimum city driving rating of 30 mpg.

The iconic NYC black car is a Lincoln Town Car. Fuel economy estimates for the 2008 model Lincoln Town Car are 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway if fueled by gasoline. The ethanol-fueled E-85 version is rated at 11 mpg in the city. To meet the new requirements, companies will likely purchase smaller hybrid cars.

Several business and environmental leaders whose companies are partnering to create an investment fund will help black car drivers finance the clean vehicles' higher down payments. These partners include John Acierno, president of the Executive Transportation Group; Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City; Seth Waugh, CEO, Deutsche Bank Americas; and Scott Freidheim, cochief administrative officer of Lehman Brothers.

Black cars release 272,000 tons of CO2 equivalents annually, which make up two percent of the city's transportation-related emissions. Under the new standards, emissions from black cars will be cut in half.

In December 2007, the Taxi and Limousine Commission approved new emissions and mileage standards for New York's yellow taxicabs that will lead to a fully hybrid fleet by 2012. Taxis can be hailed by anyone on the street, while black cars are employed by corporations to drive their executives or by wealthy private individuals.

The new yellow cab standards are being phased in over a four-year period and will reduce the carbon emissions of NYC's taxicab and for-hire vehicle fleet by 50 percent over the next decade. The Commission will now require the more than 23,000 yellow and black regulated cars in New York City to be more fuel efficient. City officials estimate that individual operators will save an average of $10,000 a year in fuel costs.