NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City marked Earth Day by launching its new electric taxi pilot program.

Six Nissan LEAF cabs were unveiled Monday. Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said the new taxis are zero-emission vehicles that are better for the environment.

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“New Yorkers are very environmentally conscious and New Yorkers appreciate that in a city as congested as this one, air quality is always going to be a concern and anything you can do to reduce harmful emissions is a step in the right direction,” Yassky told 1010 WINS.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission says electric cabs could reduce gas emissions by nearly 90,000 tons annually. They will help reduce fuel and maintenance costs, too. There are no belts to wear out and no combustion engine to require oil changes.

Officials say there will be “quick charging” stations that allow the cars to be fully recharged in less than 30 minutes.

The cars are also quiet.

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“You hear nothing,” Yassky told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he’d like to see half the city’s fleet of more than 13,000 medallion taxis go “electric” by 2020.

The city previously approved the Nissan NV200 minivan as its so-called “taxi of tomorrow.” That phase-in starts in the fall.

For more information about the program, click here.

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