Just in time for Earth Day today, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission rolled out six Nissan LEAF taxi cabs for a year-long pilot program that will evaluate what it would take to successfully adopt electric vehicles into the city’s fleet. If the pilot program is successful, the city estimates that one-third of all NYC taxis could be electric by 2020. Mayor Bloomberg kicked off the launch by taking a spin in one of the taxis this morning.

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Powered solely by electricity, the owner-operated taxis can be re-charged to almost full capacity in as little as 30 minutes. Drivers can “re-fill” at one of the city’s 100 EV charging stations—expanding to 10,000 over the next seven years—or they can power up their vehicles with electric chargers installed at their homes or within the fleet garage.

“As part of our commitment to zero emission vehicles for the mass-market, Nissan is looking for ways to broaden the use of electric cars, including commercial applications like taxis,” said Joe Castelli, vice president of Nissan Commercial Vehicles. “Following the selection of Nissan NV200 as New York City’s Taxi of Tomorrow, our relationship with the city provides us the ultimate proving ground to conduct this LEAF taxi pilot to help optimize the use of electric vehicle technology for future applications.”

LEAF taxi drivers will continue to service passengers all over the city day and night, and will charge the exact same fare as traditional cabs. There might be only six of the zero-emission cabs on the street as of now, but it’s a great start at transforming and greening New York’s taxi industry.

Via NYC Gov