PlaNYC Initiative to Improve the Fuel Efficiency of 10,000 Black Cars - the Next Step after Conversion of Yellow Cabs to "Green"

Black Car Emissions Will Be Cut in Half

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will require black cars that service corporate clients to increase fuel efficiency standards to a level currently achievable only by using hybrid technology. The plan to improve the fuel efficiency of the 10,000 black car fleet was envisioned as part of the Mayor's PlaNYC 2030, a comprehensive set of 127 initiatives aimed at reducing New York's carbon emissions and meeting the challenges of the City's growing population.

In December, the TLC voted unanimously to approve regulations that will require all yellow taxis licensed after October 1, 2008, to meet fuel efficiency standards currently only achievable through the use of hybrid technology. Black cars currently release 272,000 tons of CO2 equivalents annually which make up 2% of the City's transportation related emissions. Under the new standards emissions from black cars will be cut in half.

To help drivers finance the down payment associated with buying a new car the City has worked with partners in the financial sector, auto dealers, and black car fleets to develop a range of solutions that will finance the higher down payment.

"Over the past several months the companies that use black cars have been meeting with drivers, base operators, car dealerships, and financing groups to figure out the best way to achieve a greener fleet. In the end, they asked the City to take a regulatory approach," said Mayor Bloomberg.

"We've come up with a proposal similar to the new yellow cab standards which the TLC board approved unanimously last December. Between yellow taxis and black cars more than 23,000 TLC regulated cars will be required to be more efficient. This will allow us to achieve substantial emissions reductions for our City and keep us moving towards our long term goal of creating a truly sustainable City."

"It is to the great credit of black car industry leaders that they have collectively embraced Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to reduce harmful emissions," said TLC Commissioner and Chairman Matthew W. Daus. "Not only will the greening of the corporate car fleet reduce its carbon footprint for a cleaner environment, but black car drivers will see more green in gas savings and passengers will also enjoy riding in newly purchased vehicles as well."

Approximately 10,000 black cars operate through bases that typically contract with corporate clients. Many black cars line up, idling in front of office buildings in Midtown and Lower Manhattan awaiting customers. Hybrid automobiles switch to battery power while idling, significantly reducing emissions of both carbon dioxide and dangerous pollutants.

The City developed this plan through substantial outreach with black car users, fleet bases, dealerships, financing entities and other industry stakeholders. It requires the City to take a regulatory approach to cleaning the City's black car fleet by adopting a TLC rule change. In addition, complimentary measures will be taken by the industry to ensure that drivers can comply with these rules easily, and reap the savings from driving a more fuel efficient car.

Currently, black cars average 12-15 mph. The TLC will require fuel efficiency standards for new licensed black car vehicles of 25 mpg in 2009 and 30 mpg in 2010. Also included in the proposed rule change is a requirement for vehicle retirement. The TLC currently does not set a vehicle retirement age for for-hire vehicles like it does for the yellow taxis.

There will be a retirement phase-in cycle that will ensure almost all vehicles associated with black car bases are more fuel efficient by 2013. Black cars currently contribute 272,000 tons of CO2 equivalents annually which make up 2% of the City's transportation related emissions. Under the new standards emissions from black cars will be cut in half.

Hybrid cars will save owner operator drivers upwards of $5,000 per year in gasoline expenses, approximately 50% of their current fuel costs. These savings will allow drivers to cover, in just one year, the additional cost of purchasing a new hybrid car over the currently used Lincoln Town Car.

As part of PlaNYC, the City proposed a State law to waive the City portion of the sales tax for vehicles that meet the EPA Elite standards for energy efficient vehicles, and the City is looking forward to working with State Legislators this year to enact that proposal. The City is also working with the Partnership for New York City and several financial institutions on a program to provide financing.

"The Partnership represents international companies that are committed to reducing carbon emissions in New York and around the world," said Kathryn Wylde, President of the Partnership for New York City. "Through our Investment Fund we are working with Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and others to provide black car owners with the financing required to upgrade their cars to more fuel efficient vehicles."

"We are most pleased to be able to join with the Mayor, fleet operators and drivers to commit to a transition to fuel efficient vehicles," said Seth Waugh, CEO, Deutsche Bank Americas. "For Deutsche Bank, we have had a long standing commitment to sustainable practices in how we work to reduce our own carbon foot print and how we assist our clients to achieve their own sustainability objectives."

In addition to the Investment Fund spearheaded by the Partnership, and Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers has partnered with Executive Transportation Group (ETG), the largest black car supplier in New York, to jointly fund a first-of-its-kind lending company, Green Car Funding Corp. to provide low interest loans to ETG black car owner operators to purchase new hybrid vehicles.

"Lehman Brothers is proud to take the lead in supporting Mayor Bloomberg's hybrid car initiative. This solution should make it easier to turn black cars into green cars," said Scott Freidheim, Co-Chief Administrative Officer of Lehman Brothers. "Our effort is a small step that can have a big impact for all of New York."

"The greening of the black car industry in the plan announced by the Mayor can be a win for all parties. As a member of the black car industry, I appreciate the City including us in the planning process," said John Acierno, President of Executive Transportation Group. "This plan offers a balanced approach and a staggered implementation that will provide the people who live and work in New York the great benefit of cleaner air while allowing the industry to manage the change."

"I applaud Mayor Bloomberg, the TLC, the banks, and the fleets for developing this important policy - and particularly for doing so through an imaginative partnership," said Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "Black cars are important for our economy but their pollution is a problem for our climate and our air quality. This plan will improve both. As they are doing with smoking policies and now with hybrid taxi cabs, cities around the world should follow New York's lead in helping and requiring black car fleets to go hybrid."

Through extensive consultation with users, fleets, and drivers, including demonstrations of the new vehicle types, the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and the TLC have identified several efficient vehicle models that will have widespread acceptance including:

  • Toyota Camry Hybrid, 33mpg (city);

  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid, 27mpg (city);

  • Nissan Altima Hybrid, 35 mpg (city); and

  • Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD, 34 mpg (city).

In addition, other models may include:

  • Lexus Rx400h AWD,

  • Ford Escape Hybrid AWD, and

  • Toyota Prius.

Outreach to dealerships indicates that there will be an adequate supply of vehicles. In addition, two networks of dealers of the most promising vehicles - Best Ford Taxi and Hudson Toyota / Penske Automotive Group - have committed to making financing packages available to black car drivers. TLC will not penalize drivers who show proof that they have ordered a vehicle that meets the standard though the vehicle has not yet arrived.


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