Today's fleet of more than 13,200 taxis is made up of 16 vehicle models from nine different manufacturers. The anchor of the fleet is Ford's Crown Victoria, which was recently discontinued.
None of the vehicles on the road now was originally designed to be used as a taxi. All were existing automobiles that were then specially outfitted by garages to meet the city's requirements for cabs.
For the next official taxi to replace the Crown Victoria, City Hall wanted to change that.
"The city has never before worked with the auto industry to design one taxicab specifically for New York City, until now," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
Earlier this year the Taxi and Limousine Commission put out a request for proposals for the exclusive right to make the taxi of tomorrow.
The city asked all proposals to consider the roominess of the interior, driver comfort, environmental impact, maintenance and repair costs and exterior design.
It also asked for ideas to update the partition that divides the driver from the passengers.
New Yorkers can go online, see the three finalist designs and vote on what they want to see in the next official taxi.
The winner will be announced early next year and will have the right to exclusively provide the standard taxicab for 10 years.
Officials expect the new vehicle to be on the road by the fall of 2014.
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