New York’s world famous yellow taxi cabs will turn green over the next five years. But that isn’t their actual physical colour, it just means they will become more environmentally friendly.

The taxis will go hybrid in an effort to cut air pollution and tackle climate change. Hybrids run on petrol and electricity, therefore they emit less exhaust fumes and are more environmentally friendly. The new vehicles will also achieve greater mileage to the gallon. Current taxis get about 14 miles per gallon on average, while the new fleet would provide fuel efficiency of about 30 miles per gallon.

The new vehicles are to be phased in immediately, replacing the current fleet which numbers about 13,000 and it is hoped that all of the city’s taxis will have turned hybrid by 2012. Although concerns have been raised that the new hybrid cars will cost more, the City Council has said that the increase in fuel efficiency will save taxi drivers more than $10,000 (£5,000) every year.

The move is part of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious plan for a 30% reduction in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Speaking about the switch to hybrid cars he said: “The benefits are going to be felt by generations of New Yorkers. Going hybrid will shrink the city’s carbon footprint. Implementing tougher standards for the more than 13,000 taxis in this city will provide the same clean air benefits as removing 32,000 privately owned cars from our streets.”

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