New York’s Mayor Bloomberg put forth a proposal that would require the city’s 10,000-plus for-hire town cars to meet a new set of fuel efficiency standards over the next two years. Under the mandate, the vehicles would be replaced with more efficient hybrid vehicles in order to achieve combined fuel economy of at least 25 miles per gallon by 2009, and 30 miles per gallon by 2010. These vehicles currently average 12 to 15 miles per gallon. A Toyota Camry Hybrid has a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 33 mpg, while a Ford Escape Hybrid SUV is rated at 32 mpg. Both vehicles, as well as other hybrids, could be suitable for black car services.

Under a separate proposal last year, the city’s yellow cabs are being replaced by hybrids, but drivers have until 2012 to make the switch.

Regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the town cars make up nearly 20 percent of the city’s for-hire fleet. These vehicles are responsible for creating an estimated two percent of New York City’s total transportation-based greenhouse gases.

Many owners of the town cars are expected to show resistance to the plan as it would require them to have to buy a new hybrid vehicle in the next several months. In response, Mayor Bloomberg pointed out that the replacement cars will save thousands in fuel costs on a yearly basis. “The savings when you drive a more fuel-efficient car really are significant for the driver, ” said Bloomberd. “But from the rest of our points of view, it is infinitely better for the world that we live in.” To ease the financial burden of purchasing the new vehicles, the Mayor’s office is working with banks and town car dealers to structure low-interest terms and financing.

The proposal is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s larger plan to reduce New York City’s overall vehicle emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030. A vote on the proposal is expected in April.