• Apr 4, 2007


One of the concerns people have about hybrid vehicles is the durability of the complex drivetrains. Ford is helping to put some of that concern to rest. Less than two years ago a fleet of eighteen Escape Hybrids joined the ranks of New York City taxis. In that short span of time each one of them has now completed over 175,000 miles of service and saved an estimated $250,000 in fuel costs. If a vehicle can survive the constant stop and go traffic of New York city streets while accumulating the same mileage as an average driver collects in 11 years, it's probably doing okay.

Check Ford's press release after the jump.

[Source: Ford]

PRESS RELEASE

TOP TEN FORD AND LINCOLN MERCURY HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 2, 2007

1. Ford Leads Police Market in Sales, Durability and Protection: The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has earned more than 80 percent of the police vehicle market because it offers a superior combination of durability, value and widespread availability of special equipment for law enforcement, such as factory-installed ballistic door panels. These panels, made from ceramic composite, offer unmatched protection to law officers as a tactical shield. Recently, the supplier of the panels, Protective Products International Corporation, announced that it will market the ballistic panels for retrofit to 1998 model year through current model year Police Interceptors.

2. Ford Escape Hybrids Top 175,000 miles: Ford Escape Hybrids have been proving the durability and fuel-saving potential of Ford's full hybrid technology as New York City taxis since 2005. Today, each of the 18 vehicles that were part of the first wave have been driven about 175,000 miles, yielding fuel savings of close to $250,000 for the fleet. The mileage is equivalent to 11 years of driving by an average consumer. The 2008 Escape Hybrid went into production in January and features a new bold design, engineering refinements and even better real world fuel economy than the original model, thanks to improved powertrain controls, electric power steering and other improvements.

3. Ford SUVs Lead in KBB Study: A joint survey from Brand Watch and Kelley Blue Book shows that among non-luxury SUV shoppers, Ford products rank the highest in terms of stylishness, layout/design and versatility/flexibility. The Ford Explorer, Expedition and Escape have all adopted exterior styling that draws inspiration from Ford's "Built Ford Tough" pickups. All of them also benefit from the ride, handling and interior package benefits of independent rear suspensions (IRS). In Explorer and Expedition, the extra space the IRS allows makes their third row seats best in class, and the power-folding option remains a Ford exclusive. In areas such as safety, where the Toyota brand was top ranked, the advantage may be in perception, not reality. For example, the Toyota 4Runner has earned double 4-star ratings in NHTSA frontal impact crash tests while the Ford Explorer has earned double 5-stars. In addition, Ford's AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control system, which is standard on Ford Escape, Explorer and Expedition, is the only stability control system that actually measures roll using a gyroscopic roll rate sensor.

4. Ford Years Ahead of Government Safety Rules: This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to announce new rules that will require automakers to make electronic stability control systems like Ford's AdvanceTrac standard equipment. Last September, the agency proposed that the feature be phased in for passenger cars and light trucks between 2008 and 2011. Ford is already well ahead of the curve. All Ford, Lincoln and Mercury retail cars and trucks will receive standard electronic stability control by the end of 2009. Ford vehicles that have AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control as standard equipment today include the Ford Explorer, Expedition, Edge, Escape and Taurus X. Lincoln Mercury products include the Mercury Mariner and Mountaineer, the Lincoln Navigator and the Lincoln MKX. AdvanceTrac will be optional on the 2008 Ford Focus and Taurus, as well as the Mercury Sable.

5. Edmunds.com Names Ford Five Hundred a Top Pick for Seniors: The automotive web site www.edmunds.com says the Ford Five Hundred is one of its top picks for senior citizens, thanks to a wealth of standard features and options that make driving easier, safer and more comfortable. Highlights they cited include: heated driver seat, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with manual-adjustable lumbar support and memory settings for two drivers, a spacious cabin, tall seating position, height-adjustable driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors, available all-wheel drive, excellent visibility, outstanding crash test scores and the largest trunk in its class.

6. Consumers Equate Quiet with Quality: Vehicles are getting quieter, according to J.D. Power & Associates, which has seen a 36 percent decrease in wind noise complaints since 2003. Ford has been aggressively reducing wind and road noise in its vehicles, and new Ford products are not only quieter than many competitors, some are now quieter than luxury vehicles. For example, the web site www.edmunds.com says that the Ford Explorer Limited V-8 is significantly quieter than both the Nissan Pathfinder and Xterra, and noticeably quieter than the Lexus GX470 in most measures. Explorer is even quieter on the highway than the Mercedes-Benz ML350.
7. Ford Mobile-Ease and Ford Sync Will Tap the Growing Awareness of Bluetooth Wireless Technology : A study released last week by research firm Millward Brown has found that consumer awareness of Bluetooth technology, the global standard in short-range wireless communications, has jumped to 74 percent in the U.S. from just 58 percent in 2005. A total of 356 different companies qualified 993 new Bluetooth-equipped products in 2006, up 20 percent from 2005. Today, Ford and Lincoln Mercury offer a dealer-installed featured called "Mobile-Ease" which allows drivers to use their Bluetooth-equipped wireless phones hands-free, with calls piped through the vehicle's audio system. The system retails for $399 (MSRP) plus installation. Some 22,000 have been sold to date. This fall, Ford will launch an even more advanced technology called Ford Sync to dramatically expand in-car communications and entertainment options. Ford Sync uses Bluetooth, advanced voice recognition and text-to-speech software, a USB port and other features to control wireless phones, MP3 players and other devices through the vehicle's steering wheel or audio system controls.

8. Ford "Best Bets" in Used Vehicles : Ford and Mercury products rank prominently in the list of "Used Car Best Bets" for the 1999-2004 model years compiled by www.edmunds.com. The 1999-2004 Ford F-150 was the top-ranked pickup, thanks to "a huge variety of cab styles and trim levels, a comfortable interior with sound ergonomics, a compliant ride, communicative and precise steering, smooth power plants and best-in-class brakes." The 2002-2004 Ford Explorer was the top-ranked SUV, with Edmunds writing that "the complete redesign of the Explorer in 2002 brought a wealth of improvements in the areas of passenger accommodations, safety, comfort and utility." The 1999-2004 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis were described as "basically bullet-proof" but also "very comfortable to ride in, (with) plenty of luggage capacity, cheap to keep in light of their low maintenance requirements and commendable fuel efficiency (highway ratings are as high as 25 mpg). They also have very good crash test scores."

9. Most Powerful Production Mustangs: With 540 hp, the 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR (King of the Road) will be the most powerful production Mustang ever when it goes on sale in early 2008. The four most powerful Mustangs for the street are 2) 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 – 5.4-liter supercharged V-8, 500 hp; 3) 2003 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra – 4.6-liter supercharged V-8, 390 hp; 4) 2000 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra R – 5.4-liter V-8, 385 hp; and 5) 1969-70 Ford Mustang Boss 420 – 429 cubic inch V-8, 375 hp.

10. Mercury Taps "Titanic" Special Effects Team for Mariner Ads: TV commercials for the 2008 Mercury Mariner hit the airwaves this month with captivating 3-D images created by top technology talent from Hollywood. Tight Films and The Brothers Strause, whose most recent credits include the critically acclaimed movie, "300," researched particle and fluid movement and developed their own computer code to create the special effects seen in all three Mariner TV commercials now on cable and network TV throughout the spring. The Hollywood team, which collaborated closely with Mercury ad agency Y&R, also is known for their award-winning special effects


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Uh, is anyone gonna point out that this is a Mazda engine with Toyota hybrid technology? I mean come on.
      • 7 Years Ago
      On a related note, is there a way to find out how the other new NYC cabs are doing? Fleets of minivans (mostly Toyota Siennas and some Honda Odysseys) went into service about the same time as the Escape. I like them for the fact they have more room than the cars. Just like to see how they are holding up.
      -----------------------------------------------------

      Feld: A few months back I hailed a Honda Odessey cab in NYC. I got into a conversation with the driver about how the Honda was doing as a Taxi cab, and He thought it was holding up very well. Van had about 184K on the odometer, and the driver claims that other than routine maintenance, brakes and tires, he had no problems with it.

      However, all thing are not equal with NYC taxi cabs.

      Some cabs are fleet rentals to the drivers and work 24/7. Others are privately owned and work only when it's owner is on the job.

      The Odessey was the latter. The fleet rentals are the cars that lead a miserablle existence. Different drivers round the clock, who couldn't care less about the car. These cars are beat to hell. The privately owned cars are better cared for.
      • 7 Years Ago
      VW-Guy,
      The Ford press release explicitly states that the fuel savings is for the total fleet.

      I follow most of your logic, but until someone actually does a report on the battery life and has some hard numbers on the amount of charge they hold after X miles, MPG after X miles, actual cost of replacement and installation, etc., I'm going to continue believing that they will last the life of the vehicle (7yrs, 200K miles).

      And I don't think comparing this to a fuel sipper like a Corolla is really logical in the case of cabs which require large trunks and rear leg room. For the average customer, yes, if they don't need the towing capacity or high ride height, but for a NYC taxi there are only certain vehicles that should be considered.

      On another note, this was my favorite line of the press release, "Edmunds.com Names Ford Five Hundred a Top Pick for Seniors". I'm shocked! haha
      • 7 Years Ago
      A lot of crown vics in Taxi service are not old cruisers. Ford was offering Taxi spec cars for a while. Factors like serviceability of the Crown Vic keeps it on top of the heap as well. Complete re-man powertrains are about a thousand bucks. In Mexico, they run Nissan Tsuru's (ca 1992 Sentra) for taxi duty. I bet those little things get the same mileage as a hybrid Escape. Back doors in the escape are horribly small, too. With the life cycle of the crown vic coming to a close, there exists the market for a proper replacement, not unlike the London taxis. A hybrid powertrain could certainly be part of that, although a capacitor based system might work better.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Maybe someone messed up the decimal point.
      $25,000 over 175,000 miles is 14.3 cents, if that is 25mpg and that is double what the crown vics return, then it is believable.
      • 7 Years Ago
      hey Bob-omb(oob)

      Ford also licensed Toyota hybrids patents after its engineers realized that the system Ford had developed had features similar to ones patented by Toyota. Ford was simply trying to avoid lawsuits. "Toyota gave Ford license to use SOME (not all, not most) of its hybrid technology, and Ford gave the Japanese automaker diesel and direct-injection engine technology." Aisin, which is minority-controlled (23%) by Toyota, is a suppler of Ford's Hybrid transmissions and limits the amount of hybrid transmissions it sells to competitors.

      Ford is already lining up new partners. For the Fusion and Milan hybrids coming out in 2008, it is switching the bulk of its battery orders to Delphi Corp. from Sanyo, one of Honda's battery suppliers.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Wouldn't a sedan make more sense than a small SUV? Sure, V8 taxis are stupid, but a hybrid SUV isn't a lot better.
      What about a Bluetec taxi?
      Mercedes should offer a 4-cylinder (220 CDI) bluetec taxi-spec E-class in the states. That would basically be what the average german taxi driver uses.
      Another idea: drop that engine in a 300C...
      Bryan
      • 7 Years Ago
      I read all of this yesterday. Seems like Ford has a lot of good going on. What everyone seems to not realize is that these units are not done. They still have plenty of life. Escape Hybrid owners should rejoice knowing that they purchased a vehicle ready for the long haul.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Um, it seems to me that if the fuel savings are really $250,000 in 2 years, battery life won't really matter. Aren't battery's supposed to cost ~$3-6K?

      Heck, if that $250,000 is true, why wouldn't any of these Cab companies use whatever loans they have on hand or take out loans to replace their Crown Vics? Am I missing something?
      • 7 Years Ago
      NYC has more than 12,000 cabs (95% of them driven 24/7) -- can someone calculate the impact of converting all of them to hybrids?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Actually The Escape is a Hybrid cross over, Its almost as effient when compaired to a automobile of the same wight. The only time a automobile is more efficent is when you have to start taking into account, Wind resistance. Since New York does not have too many city streets that allow travel above 45 mph... Wind resistance is not a issue.

      It also makes a reasonable amount of sence over a sedan as it allows the driver a better view of traffic. How many times have you been stuck in traffic with a sedan, and how many times have you been able to see a traffic jam mile ahead in a SUV. the foot or two Diffrence you get from a SUV can be a amazing diffrence in city traffic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What about a Bluetec taxi?
      Mercedes should offer a 4-cylinder (220 CDI) bluetec taxi-spec E-class in the states.
      -----------------------------------------------------

      One problem, NYC probably wouldn't approve a large scale influx of diesel cars to be operated in the city on a 24/7 basis.

      New York city is trying get rid of as many diesel vehicles as possible. Diesel trains are banned from operating within city limits.

      The MTA operates between 500 and 600 Hybrid buses. they replaced diesel buses. MTA estimates that the 500+ hybrids, represents a reduction of 450,000 tons of soot annually.
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