Hail a yellow cab in New York City today, and you could be stepping into a dog's breakfast of vehicles, ranging from a cavernous Toyota Sienna minivan to a claustrophobic Ford Escape crossover.
After climbing into the rear seat, you may find yourself nostalgic for a yellow Crown Victoria, an obsolete sedan that had been in production for 20 years when Ford (F, Fortune 500) discontinued it in 2011. But chances are you won't be sliding your fanny into very many Nissan NV200s, the one-time "taxi of tomorrow" that now has only a slim chance of becoming a taxi of today.
The Nissan cab, which was supposed to replace nearly all of the 16 different models currently certified as New York City taxi-worthy, found itself detoured by a combination of technical shortcomings, city hall bumbling, and plain old political hardball. For Nissan, the failure of the NV200 to take over the entire fleet represents a financial loss of $50 million, a missed marketing opportunity, and a very public embarrassment.