Finding the Perfect Yellow Shade for NYC Taxi Cabs

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By Kelsey Keith / Published by Dwell
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New York’s newest taxi design proposes a dressed-up version of the classic yellow cab with a standardized hue.

The notion of hailing a New York City taxi is as emblematic of the modern-day metropolis as the mighty skyscraper or the humble hot dog cart. Yellow cabs are downright ubiquitous. Yet what we assume is one signature color of paint has never been standardized. The commonly recognized, almost primary yellow is shared by Ford’s Crown Victoria and Escape Hybrid models, but, notes Francois Farion, Nissan’s senior manager for color and design strategy, "As the cars diversified, so did the yellows: The Toyota Camry shade is very orange, whereas the Lexus RX Hybrid is almost pastel." 

New York's taxi cabs have never been a uniform shade of yellow. Instead, certain cars are practically orange, others almost pastel.

Farion led the Nissan team that created the Taxi of Tomorrow, which in 2011 won a competition organized by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission and is now a common sight on the streets of Manhattan. Farion says that at first, Brenda Parkin, a Nissan color designer, experimented with a "bright metallic yellow to communicate modernity and technology." They had to nix the initial shade, which would have required three coats of paint, in favor of a lighter single-coat solid that allows fleet owners to repair nicks and scratches without adding a base and clear coat: "For taxis more than anyone, time is money."