A Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT) press release reports that Toyota and Honda have issued warnings against using their hybrid passenger vehicles as commercial taxicabs. In addition, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Nissan, have refused to certify the crashworthiness of their hybrid New York City taxicabs as modified with mandatory partitions.
In late 2007, the TLC mandated that all new taxis, the vast majority of which are required to have partitions, achieve 25 miles-per-gallon, disallowing the purpose-built stretch Ford Crown Victoria taxicab.
The MTBOT, which represents 25 percent of the taxi industry, has mounted a legal challenge, citing a 2008 engineer's report that finds hybrids to be unsafe and unfit as New York City taxicabs. The mandate has been delayed and awaits a federal court ruling expected later this month.
Nine vehicles were on the July 16 vehicle approval list for taxi use. On August 29, the automakers were asked to certify that their hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles are manufacturer-approved to be used as taxicabs and safe when modified with partitions and other TLC requirements. Not one automaker has responded with a certification.
The TLC has confirmed that it does not crash test hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions and says it relies, in large part, on federal testing to assert the safety of hybrid taxicabs. However, it has also been established that there are no federal crash tests for hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions.
Hybrid automakers explicitly warn against any modifications to hybrid vehicles in the owner manuals, reports the MTBOT.