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The Nissan NY200 was chosen as the vehicle of choice for New York City's taxi fleet.

AP Photo

Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd. has won New York's 10-year contract to build the next generation of taxis for the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

Turkish manufacturer Karsan Otomotiv and Ford Motor Co were the other two finalists in bids for the contract.

Nissan's winning design in "The Taxi of Tomorrow" competition was a van based on its NV200 minivan, Bloomberg said.

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"It's going to be the safest, most comfortable, and most convenient cab the City has ever had," Bloomberg said.

"We started this process to leverage our taxi industry's purchasing power to get the highest quality taxi ... the new taxis will be custom designed to meet the specific demands of carrying 600,000 passengers a day," he said.

Bloomberg said he has not ridden in the new taxi because it has not yet been built.

Nissan will be able to convert the NV200 to run on electric-only engines beginning in 2017. The city will test the use of electric engines in taxis using six electric Nissan Leafs, provided free to the city as part of the deal.

The NV200 is the first cab to pass federal crash testing with the taxi partition and taxi equipment installed.

The new taxi will replace 16 models, built by nine manufacturers, now on the city's streets.

New York City has 13,237 licensed taxis. The contract is expected to begin in 2013, when the city will begin phasing out the older models. It will take three to five years to replace them.

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The NV200 taxi model will also include a transparent, panoramic roof panel. Karsan's van had gained notice because of its transparent roof for better sight-seeing and a ramp for wheelchairs.

The Turkish manufacturer had hoped to gain favour with city officials by promising to assemble the cars in Brooklyn with union labour. The plant would have marked a return of auto-making to the city for first time in about a century.

Bloomberg said that Karsan had not been selected largely because the company had little experience providing cars to the American market.

The Nissan NV200 taxis will be built at a Nissan facility in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and will be converted into taxis at an undetermined location in the New York area, Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares told reporters.

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