NEW YORK – Nissan's new taxi, based on its NV200 small cargo van, debuts in April at the auto show here, Joe Castelli, vice president-commercial vehicles and fleet, Nissan North America, tells the International Motor Press Assn. here.

When the Nissan taxi goes on sale in late 2013, it will be the only vehicle available to cab operators for a decade, according to a spokesman for the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission. The T&LC will issue 2,000 additional medallions to operators of wheelchair-accessible taxis.

Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters, of Fountain Valley, CA, is building the show prototype for Nissan. It will be a fully functional vehicle, Castelli promises.

Castelli says the auto maker is working with a supplier to create a wheelchair-accessibility package for its new taxi, which will be priced at about $29,000 without the option. Nissan needs to keep the wheelchair option within the budgets of taxi operators.

The Nissan cab will come with a standard navigation system. It also will provide electric outlets for passengers to recharge their laptop computers and mobile phones, as well as Bluetooth capability and a sound system.

Castelli says Nissan chose not to include stop/start battery technology for the first of the new-breed taxis. However, the Japanese auto maker is considering that feature, as well as a variety of mild-hybrid options.

One feature the cab will have is a glass roof that was required by the T&LC. Nissan will have to figure out how to place the advertising board, which the vehicle is expected to carry on its roof without blocking the view of passengers.

Castelli says New York is the biggest taxi community in the world and expects the NV200-based cab to enjoy sales of about 200-250 units per month. That's the scrappage rate of conventional taxis in use today.

The 3-year, 150,000-mile (240,000-km) warranty will not cover the full anticipated service life of a New York taxi that averages about 75,000 miles (120,000 km) annually.

But Nissan has done extensive testing of NV200 production models at its Arizona proving grounds, which include a 1-mile (1.6-km) stretch called New York Ave. The test course is complete with New York-sized potholes and other obstacles that mete out punishment to conventional cabs today.

The auto maker will phase in a number of innovations over the 10-year life of the Nissan taxi,  Castelli hints.