• Jan 19th 2008 at 10:33AM
  • 31

Click image for a gallery of the '07 Ford Escape Hybrid Taxi

As capable a taxi as the Ford Crown Vic has been for New York and other big cities, the big sedan is nearing the end of its run, and since it makes up the majority of NYC's taxi fleet, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is on the prowl, looking for a proper replacement. Ideally, they'd get a custom design that provides passenger space, ample cargo capacity, easy access for the disabled, reduced fuel consumption, and clean operation. Like London's iconic black cabs, the ideal NYC taxi would also have a unique, easily identifiable style.

You can't get something like that without help, however, so TLC chairman Matthew Daus headed to the Detroit Auto Show to begin lobbying automakers for a purpose-built NYC taxicab. The commission has enlisted the assistance of Ricardo to come up with a list of "dream cab" specifications that will be circulated among the various automakers. Whether any of them will step up and deliver an all-new taxi remains to be seen. A well-done fleet car like that would certainly have appeal in other major cities, too, so there would likely be buyers outside the Big Apple. We figured that the Escape Hybrid (above), which already has an established presence of its own in NYC's taxi fleet, would be a lock to replace the Crown Vic when the time comes. If no automakers go to bat for the TLC with a custom taxi, it still might. Ideally, however, we'd see a purpose-built cab that blends the utility of the Escape, the comfort of the Crown Vic, the green credentials of a modern hybrid, and the charm of a Checker Marathon. With jump seats, of course.

[Source: Automotive News-- sub. req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wonder if NYC is taking into consideration the increased maintenance costs, repair costs, and running costs when switching from the Vic.

      I also don't see some Toyota Hybrid or Escape Hybrid lasting 300K miles of taxi service. Not unless they are constantly getting worked on.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think some people need to rethink something VERY important: cost.

      most fleet vehicles are purchased in bulk, and manufacturers provide "concessions" for bulk purchases. these are more than you would ever expect.

      for example, an extended wheelbase Crown Victoria with taxi package has a list price of around $30K. with concessions, it would cost the fleet purchaser around $18,500.

      the stretched 300 would be an extremely bad idea for several reasons. first, the stretch is not done 'in house', but done by Accubuilt in Ohio. the cost of the stretch alone is over $11,000. presently, it is only done on the Touring and 300C models. this puts the Touring with no options at about $41,000, and the C over $50K. even if they used the base model, which lists around 25K (plus the 11K), it would still be very expensive, and that does not include the hybrid powertrain.

      the biggest issue would be with status. who would want to buy a retail unit of something as common as a taxi? not exactly a status-builder.

      by far the best choice is a minivan. lots of room, low, flat floor, and much more comfortable than any sedan.

      Chrysler minivans have been used at taxis in Las Vegas since 1984, and are indestructible.

      I get a little tired of constantly seeing the total delusion that FWD is not good in heavy-duty service.

      I was in the livery business for almost ten years. after owning quite a few trouble-prone, archaic RWD Town Cars, I switched to Cadillac deVilles.

      we had 42 of them over almost eight years; each was retired when it reached 350,000 miles. that occured in about 24 months. these cars cover ed over 14 million miles, without a single component failure of any kind. the old saw of "FWD doesn't hold up" is a total lie.

        • 7 Years Ago

        my company was in Arizona; we did a lot of tours, and were constantly on unpaved, unimproved roads not unlike the potholed NYC streets.

        when you're in the livery business, you constantly hear the "FWD doesn't hold up" comments. I had plenty of business acquaintances in the livery business in all the big eastern cities, and over time, converted over 100 to deVilles. they never had any problems, either.

        issues like CV joints/boots are pretty much the exclusive domain of Japanese cars. we never had an issue with either; I've discovered in the livery business that many of the fears were old wives' tales.

        I now sell parts for Buick Reattas for a living. I keep a 150 car inventory at all times, and have never seen a bad CV joint/boot since I've been in business. not bad for cars approaching 20 years old now.

        the Town Cars had endless issues with U-joints, and with the rear air suspension, among other things.

        Cadillacs used conventional coil springs, with load leveling shocks. if there was a shock failure, you could still work, and schedule a time to have the shock replaced. with the air bags on the Lincoln, you were dead in the water. a Cadillac air shock was $71, and you could replace it yourself in 30 minutes or less. a Lincoln air bag was $500, and was not a job you'd want to do yourself.

        I'm not happy at all with the trend toward RWD. I don't see anything efficient about a front engine driving rear wheels, connected by a pole. FWD packages all the drivetrain in the front, over the drive wheels, with no intrusions into the trunk or passenger compartment.

        domestic manufacturers have had over twenty years experience in this field, and now have made it perfect.

        not all of us are interested in running our cars in a gymkhana. I think the only winners are the tire companies with the sale of snow tires, as we take the incredibly retrograde step backward to RWD.

        • 7 Years Ago
        AZMike: Re: FWD vehicles

        I'm under the impression that FWD vehicles are more susceptible to damage resulting from poor road surfaces than RWD vehicles are. Where was your livery business located? NYC streets are wanting.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Funny- I just got done with 2 back-to-back 1 hour sedan rides, and can't help but comment...
        The Caddy has much better seats and legroom. My back hurt after I got out of the Lincoln. Having rear ventilation controls is also very nice. The trunk being flat is certainly nice.
        The Lincoln was MUCH quieter. No wind-noise at all, while the Caddy had a lot. Engine noise was also much more muted in the Lincoln. Headroom and elbow room was also better in the TC. By comparison, the DTS felt very snug.

        Last- its a shame that civillians cant buy the LWB DTS. If you're going to have a big sedan, you might as well have a BIG SEDAN.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Having been a resident of New York City for the past 28 years I can assure you that the big yellow Crown Vic taxi (like the LTD before it) is as much a part of New York as Times Square and Central Park*. To replace it with the Toyota Prius or Sienna, not to mention the hideous purpose built standard taxi concept, would be very sad indeed. Instead, Ford should look into building a hybrid extended wheelbase Crown vic.

      *Note: For all the Ford Haters: I know Checker once ruled, Dodge Diplomats and other assorted Chrysler products once roamed the streets, and Chevrolet Impalas and Caprices made their home in Manhattan. But that was more than 12 years ago at least.
        • 7 Years Ago
        At least the put the 4.3 V6 in those Impala cabs ( at least offered it) to save a little fuel.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I just got a Taxi Account in Brooklyn, Ny. Been selling them Camry Hybrids and A LOT of Highlander Hybrid Limiteds. The one guy added Black Leather, painted all the plastic pieces black, added dark carpet, black suede roof liner, black'd out brush guards and all this other stuff. The exterior is black by the way. The car came out looking AWESOME. Seems a lot of them are switching to highlander/camry hybrids
      • 7 Years Ago
      How about the JDM Toyota Estima Hybrid minivan? It uses the Camry Hybrid's setup but in an egg-shaped vehicle about the size of the departed Mazda MPV. It goes for about mid-$30k range over there, but it would have to be modified for these shores.


      • 7 Years Ago
      Or the Euro-only 300C Touring (Wagon) with a diesel :D
      • 7 Years Ago

      Seriously, it looks like a winner. It's design is based on the traditional London Cab, but with easily and cheaply replacable panels designed for a rough environment like NYC or SF streets.

      It may be ugly, but it's distinctive, and in 30 years would probably be held as a timeless, distinctive design. After all, the Jeep Wrangler would probably be regarded as a hideous, crude design today, if not for the history of the Jeep.

      • 7 Years Ago
      We are off to the witch! We may never, never, never come home!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah. Look in the top left of the picture in the article. Can't believe I'm the only one to notice it.

        Jalop would have done this on purpose.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Carbon Motors police car concept would make a great cab too. Don't all old police cars go on to a second or third life as a taxi anyway?

      • 7 Years Ago
      Do you asspies really expect Toyota to take over NY's Taxi fleets?

      Get a grip, imports as iconic vehicles are a nono.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The NYC taxi business is different from the rest of the country. First of all, the cost of the vehicle is nothing compared to the cost of the medallion to become a taxi. Current auctions have had medallions go for over $300k. NYC also did a comparision of fuel costs in 2005, and based on gas at $3/gal a driver would save $5k a year if they were using a Prius. Savings would be 30% more since gas is almost $4 gal in NYC. NYC medallion regulations also require a taxi to be no older than 3-5 years , so there almost no old police cars as taxis in NYC. Most taxi trips in NYC are very short and almost all trips are manhattan to manhattan. Try asking a taxi to take you to one of the outer buroughs at a peak hour...wont happen. Cars like the prius and escape make the most logical choices. its almost sillt to think of a gas guzzling v8 to be used to ferry people around on roads where you cant get above 30-40 MPH.

      my 2 cents
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Camry hybrids already in pretty heavy use in Boston fit the bill. Well, all except for the charm, but function first, ya know.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Relatives of mine have one of those. It's a fairly nice car for what it is, but it barely has a trunk. How's that work out for taxi service?

        I guess it doesn't matter for driving drunks home from the bars, but what about taking people and their bags to the airport? What are we supposed to do, carry em on our laps?
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