Toyota to take staid taxi to new heights by 2018

The JPN Taxi Concept gives tourists a view with extra-tall windows.

If you’ve ever set foot in Tokyo, you know the ubiquitous, straight-laced Toyota Crown Comfort three-box sedans that are as archetypal of Japanese taxis as their drivers’ officious hats and dainty white gloves.

But Tokyo’s streetscape is about to get a big makeover, and just in time for the 2020 Olympics. Toyota says it will launch a next-generation taxi for Japan in 2018 — a bulbous, hatchback hybrid.

The new taxi, previewed as the JPN Taxi Concept at last week’s Tokyo Motor Show, will be just as idiosyncratic as the Crown Comfort. It starts with the huge greenhouse. A low beltline allows plenty of visibility for driver and passenger alike. And extra-tall side windows in back give tourists a panoramic view. The car also gets a low floor and wide-opening sliding doors.

In a nod to Toyota’s green DNA, the taxi is a hybrid, like the flagship Prius. But unlike the Prius, the cab will run on electricity and liquefied petroleum gas, instead of gasoline.

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