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Mass mobility by Nissan

Mass mobility by Nissan

Andy Palmer, vice president of Nissan, on 27 March with the NV200 Mobility Taxi and Pathfinder Hybrid in New York. (Nissan North America)

Although Nissan’s press conference on 27 March at the New York auto show opened with a proud discussion of the brand’s commitment to electric propulsion, the only models getting plugged were non-electrics that nevertheless pushed the brand into new niches.

Following a presentation of Nissan’s contestable success with the electric Leaf (sales have been below expectations), its tie-ups with Ford and Daimler, and its commitment to putting fuel-cell vehicles on roads as early as 2017, brand executives turned toward the Pathfinder Hybrid and NV200 Mobility Taxi.

The hybrid sport crossover is based on the recently introduced, gasoline-only unibody model, and supplants the last-generation Altima Hybrid as the marque’s sole gasoline-electric offering. Combined with power drawn from a lithium-ion battery pack, the Pathfinder Hybrid produces 250 horsepower from a 2.5-litre, supercharged four-cylinder engine, for a net loss of 10 horsepower over its conventionally powered stable-mate.  More impressive is the combined fuel economy rating of 26mpg, representing an improvement of approximately 20% – accomplished, in part, through the use of a continuously variable transmission and regenerative braking.

Few visual cues differentiate the Pathfinder models, save for unique badging. The Hybrid retains the non-hybrid model’s three rows of seating, and is a direct competitor to Toyota’s mid-size Highlander Hybrid, also unveiled on 27 Mar.

Nissan then turned to a handicapped-accessible version of its coming NV200 taxicab that accommodates wheelchair passengers from the rear of the vehicle. In contrast to current taxis, which feature side-mounted access ramps and doors, the van will offer a fold-out ramp and a specialised seatbelt.

Having already locked in an exclusive contract with New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer emphasised that the NV200 platform could also accommodate alternative-fuel and electric powertrains, should the commission choose to put such vehicles into service.

Denizens of the Big Apple can expect NV200 taxis on Manhattan streets toward the latter half of the year, likely helmed by drivers as reticent as ever to conduct their fares to Brooklyn.

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