As the deadline approaches for Nissan's "Taxi of Tomorrow" to be New York City's official cab, City Comptroller Scott Stringer has raised concerns about the cab's wheelchair ramp for handicapped passengers.
Stringer wrote to Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairwoman Meera Joshi to say that the group has not gotten enough input from the disabled community to keep passengers safe in the Nissan NV200, which has a wheelchair ramp extending from the back, the New York Daily News reported.
"Requiring the passenger to enter from the back of the vehicle exposes both the driver and passenger to potential risks from oncoming traffic during boarding," Stringer wrote.
He also pointed to the wheelchair ramp's "steep" angle as a potential problem along with the height of the step, which Stringer claimed could be a problem for seniors with mobility issues.
Nissan has faced a number of obstacles after scoring a billion-dollar exclusive contract with New York three years ago when the city selected an automaker to supply taxicabs for the next decade.
New York has around 14,000 cabs, but only about 500 of those are Nissan NV200 models.
After years of stalling, the city in December finally acknowledged Nissan's right to supply its cabs, partly due to the financial risk involved for reneging on the contract.
Nissan has invested more than $50 million in the taxi program, and the carmaker could recoup its expenses and drain the city of more if New York doesn't honor its $1 billion contract, according to the New York Times report.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission has set April 20 as the official launch of the Nissan taxi program, which will involve replacing most retiring cabs with the NV200 and essentially make Nissan's special cab the only option for Manhattan drivers to purchase.
In one revision to the Nissan contract, hybrid-powered and wheelchair-accessible vehicles can still be purchased from other vendors.