NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New Yorkers are getting the chance to see an electric vehicle some say should replace the city’s horse-drawn carriages when it debuts this week at the New York International Auto Show.
CBS 2 got a first look at the antique-style, fully electric car designed by Jason Wenig of Florida.
“This is New York City and the wow factor’s got to be there,” he said.
Wenig was given nearly half-a-million dollars to research, design and build the prototype for animal rights advocate group NYCLASS, whose members believe the horses should be banned.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to deliver on his campaign promise of banning horse-drawn carriages and said last week he expected City Council to ban the carriages by year’s end.
“A horse in the middle of the streets of Midtown doesn’t belong,” he said. “I think a humane society doesn’t do that to animals and we have an alternative where we’ll have an opportunity for tourists to have a similar experience but without horses being a part of it.”
But the proposed ban continues to face plenty of opposition. Carriage horse owner Anita Gerami says the iconic carriage rides are part of Central Park’s appeal.
“I don’t think people want to get out of a car to take a ride in another car,” said Gerami. “People come for the horses, to see them. Without them, I don’t think they would get a tour Central Park the same way it is now.”
Others like actor Liam Neeson also oppose the ban. In a New York Times editorial Tuesday, Neeson said he sees the proposal “as a class issue” that threatens the livelihoods of carriage drivers and stable hands.
Meanwhile, the proposal is getting a mixed reaction from New Yorkers.
“We have to keep the horses in Central Park,” one man told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “It’s a New York tradition.”
“I feel bad for those horses, so it might be nice to have something different,” another woman said.
Wenig says if and when the decision is made, he’s ready to roll
“Next steps are determined by people other than me, but when I’m called upon and ready to build more of these things, I’m ready to go,” he said.
City Council has not yet introduced the legislation.
The New York International Auto Show opens to the public at the Javitz Center on Friday.
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