Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is promoting a plan to require the entire fleet of approximately 10,000 mostly black limousines to meet fuel-efficiency standards of 25 miles a gallon in 2009 and 30 miles a gallon in 2010, which can only be attained with hybrid vehicles. Currently the cars average 12 to 15 miles a gallon and add 272,000 tons of heat-trapping gases to the air each year, or about 2 percent of the city’s transportation-related emissions.
Mayor Bloomberg’s plan is to go before the Taxi and Limousine Commission for approval in April. The city has already begun phasing hybrids into its fleet of 13,000 yellow cabs. City officials are also working on a plan for the roughly 40,000 cabs that serve neighborhoods, especially outside Manhattan, where other taxis are scarce. The mayor’s plan includes incentives like tax breaks and low-cost-financing options to make it easier for the drivers, many of whom must buy their cars, to afford the higher down payments needed for hybrid vehicles.
Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers are working with a black-car company, Executive Transportation Group, to help provide low-interest loans for hybrid-vehicle purchases. Best Ford Taxi and Hudson Toyota/Penske Automotive Group would offer favorable financing packages to the drivers. And the city is asking the state to approve the waiver of sales taxes on purchases. (The New York Times)