A New Kind of Taxi

NEW YORK, April 6, 2007 — -- New York's famous yellow taxis might soon get a makeover.

The city authority that regulates cabs has pushed in recent years for more handicapped-accessible and more environmentally-friendly vehicles.

These taxis represent only a small faction of the overall fleet, but car manufactures at the New York International Auto Show have taken notice and have redesigned their image of the typical cab.

If these new autos ever take hold in New York, the automakers are banking on the new model spreading across the country, probably in such taxi-heavy cities as Las Vegas first.

General Motors has been working with El Dorado, a Kansas company, to retrofit existing minivans into handicapped-accessible cabs.

Another company, Bruno Independent Living Aids, of Wisconsin, has been converting the Toyota Sienna into accessible taxis.

While those two companies work to make existing cars more accessible, one Michigan business hopes to launch a completely new taxi designed for maximum versatility.

Called the Standard Taxi, the new oversize vehicle slightly resembles a London taxi, only it's yellow.

It features a high roof, with plenty of room inside for extra bags, a baby stroller or wheelchair. Plus, it comes with a ramp to make it compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The designers of Standard Taxi don't yet have a deal to manufacture the vehicle, but proudly displayed their prototype at an exhibit at the auto show, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first gas-powered taxi in New York.