A judge has sided with New York City taxi owners, and against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in ruling that taxis can't be forced to better their fuel economy. The judge issued an injunction blocking the rule from taking effect; it would have forced most taxis to use hybrid gas-electric engines by 2012, and was designed to improve air quality.
While many drivers saw the benefits of driving hybrids -- particularly in stop-and-go city traffic, where the friction of breaking enhances the overall fuel economy of vehicles -- fleet owners and others in the industry opposed the mandate.
The judge ruled that the city has no authority to mandate fuel efficiency standards, however. A similar fight in California, the state has tried to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, which would effectively mandate more stringent fuel economy standards. The Bush administration opposed the move, and the fight ultimately led Congress to adopt more stringent fuel economy standards.
The city is considering an appeal, according to the New York Times, as well as alternative strategies that would achieve the same goal through incentives, rather than mandates. Meanwhile, taxi industry representatives in other cities, like Boston, cheered ... environmental groups bemoaned the decision ... and thousands of visitor and residents to New York City will be picked up in Ford Crown Victorias instead of Toyota Priuses and the like.
For the 2009 model year, the Toyota Prius gets a combined 46 mpg, while the Crown Vic gets just 19. The contrast is even greater in city driving, where the Prius gets 48 mpg and the Crown Vic a paltry 16. Yes, that's right: The Prius taxi would go three times as far on a gallon of gas.
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