Source AP ©

New York's yellow cabs to change colour by 2012

Yellow cabs of New York will go hybrid within five years , and all of the city’s vehicle’s for hire will meet new emissions and mileage standards by next year, the mayor was to announce Tuesday.

There are just 375 fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles among the 13,000 taxis rolling on New York's streets today. That number will increase to 1,000 by October 2008, and will grow by about 20 percent each year until 2012.

Hybrid vehicles run on a combination of gasoline and electricity, requiring less fuel and emitting less exhaust. Changing over the fleet is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's wider sustainability plan for New York, which includes a 30-percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

The hybrids tested in the city's taxi fleet over the past 18 months include the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the Lexus RX 400h and the Ford Escape.

Bloomberg was to discuss the hybrid changeover on NBC's "Today" show, on which Yahoo! was expected to announce a donation of 10 hybrid Ford Escape taxis. The details were described to The Associated Press before the mayor's appearance.

The standard yellow cab vehicle is the Ford Crown Victoria, which gets 14 miles per gallon (6 kilometers per liter) - less than half the fuel efficiency of a typical hybrid.

Besides making the yellow cab brigade entirely green within five years, the city will require all new vehicles entering the fleet after October 2008 to achieve a minimum of 25 miles per gallon (10 kilometers per liter). A year later, all new vehicles must get 30 miles per gallon (13 kilometers per liter) and be hybrid.

City officials said the new standards, when fully implemented, were expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 200,000 U.S. tons (181,000 metric tons) per year.

Hybrid vehicles are typically more expensive, but the city said the increase in fuel efficiency would save taxi operators more than US$10,000 (EUR7,400) per year.