• Mar 19th 2008 at 12:02AM
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In the era of the greener taxicab, the extremely capable Ford Crown Victoria is now gauche. Ford knows this, and later this morning in the Jacob Javits Center, it will unveil a new taxi concept that's about as different from the Vic as you can get. The Ford Transit Connect Taxi that was spied last week combines spaciousness and utility with improved fuel economy and reduced emissions thanks to the 2.0-liter four it packs underhood (no hybrid, though, which would be really big in cities like New York). The yellow exterior is offset with matte grey accents, including the combo fascia/bumpers fore and aft.

Ford Transit Connect TaxiPassengers ride in an airy cabin that feels even more so in the concept thanks to a vista roof that looks nice but would probably never make the cut on a real fleet vehicle. Ford and Microsoft's Work Solutions package powers the system feeding content to the 13-inch display facing the backseat passengers. In addition to acting as the meter and electronic payment interface, the display also supplies "infotainment" info, live traffic and weather, and GPS functionality. Folks who still pay their fares with wallet cabbage can send their greenbacks forward through the concept's fancy little orb in the rear partition (Ford calls it "Sputnik").

As good as the Crown Victoria taxi is, its days are numbered as cities move to green up their taxi fleets. If the Transit Connect can handle the amount of punishment the Vic regularly endures, it's a pretty compelling package. Not only is it more roomy and efficient than the Vic, it could probably be made readily accessible for disabled riders, too. Ford is intent on showing a variety of uses for its new Euro-sourced work van, and this seems like a good one.

[Source: Ford]

  • Ford reveals fuel-efficient, nimble Transit Connect Taxi concept in the taxi capital of America – New York City.
  • A cavernous, easy-to-access interior marries the maneuverability and fuel efficiency of a small car, showing how perfectly suited Transit Connect is for carrying people and cargo through congested city streets.
  • Transit Connect provides another example of how Ford is leveraging its global product lineup. Transit Connect is designed, engineered and manufactured by Ford of Europe. It was named International Van of the Year when launched in 2003.
NEW YORK, March 19, 2008 – Ford, the leading provider of taxis in North America, is offering a fresh take on taxis at the New York International Auto Show.

"Taxis are an important part of the urban landscape, and the Transit Connect Taxi concept represents a potential game-changer, given its small footprint, comfortable, spacious interior, fuel-efficient engine and affordability," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "We're interested to see how people react."

Ford has been a leader in the taxi business for decades. The Ford Crown Victoria is the leader in the taxi market in cities throughout the U.S.
Ford also was the first manufacturer to introduce gas-electric hybrid-powered taxis into North American fleets with the launch of the Ford Escape Hybrid in San Francisco and New York City in early 2005. Today, New York's Escape hybrid fleet has grown to more than 800, including the original 18 that joined the fleet in 2005, still running with the original nickel-metal hydride batteries intact.

The Transit Connect Taxi concept offers a new perspective on how to move people and their gear through congested city streets – more cleanly, efficiently and with new technology that could revolutionize the taxi industry.

Built on a dedicated, commercial vehicle platform and tested to Ford's toughest truck standards, Transit Connect is specially made to meet the extreme demands of taxi service.

With its standard, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission, Transit Connect delivers estimated fuel economy of 19 mpg in the city – a more than 30 percent improvement in fuel economy and nearly 90 percent lower tailpipe emissions than many of today's traditional taxis.

A Small Footprint with Big Potential
Transit Connect blends well into cityscapes. Its smart, vertical stacked design is able to accommodate three rear-cab passengers and 75 cu. ft. of parcels – in part because it emulates the city skyline that surrounds it.

"When cities ran out of horizontal space at the turn of the 20th century, architects started to build upward," said Peter Horbury, executive director of Design, The Americas. "The Transit Connect Taxi concept brings that same idea to the streets, changing the shape of the space, making it taller with a smaller and narrow footprint."

In addition to its new shape, the Transit Connect Taxi concept's paint scheme and expressive graphic treatment lend it unique personality.
Designers didn't abandon iconic yellow paint – but they did change the formula to a more modern hue that contrasts with deep gray, molded-in-color fender flares as well as front and rear fascias that serve dual duty as impact-resistant bumpers.

Most noticeable up top is a futuristic interpretation of the yellow "taxi bubble." The space-age looking flat-panel unit, mounted horizontally above the Taxi concept's roof, is lit on all four sides – green if the cab is available, orange if it's occupied.

Easy Access to a Spacious, Tech-Laden Interior
The Transit Connect Taxi concept gives "curb service" new meaning. With 6.5-inches of ground clearance, passengers step easily through the sliding doors and into the cab, instead of sliding down into the back seat.

The concept's standard high-roof van offers ample headroom, accentuated by a vista roof that brightens the three-person passenger compartment and provides views of the urban architecture.

The Taxi concept also features a new electronic infotainment and navigation system that shows passengers their accumulating cab fare, and a scrolling news, weather, sports score and stock ticker. Using the 13-inch diagonal touch screen, passengers also can select their choice of video and music channels, follow the taxi's journey on a map or scroll through a list of points of interest along the route – including restaurants, museums and shops.

Once at the destination, the screen displays the fare with options to pay via cash, credit or debit. Cardholders can swipe their card, enter a pin number for debit, calculate the tip and complete the transaction right from their seat. Cash-paying passengers can use "Sputnik," a rotating billet aluminum softball-sized orb that replaces the outdated sliding ashtray used on today's taxis.

Ahead of the partition, the driver's area comes with a fold-flat passenger seat that doubles as a work station. The Transit Connect Taxi concept is equipped with a special version of the Ford Work Solutions integrated computer.

The in-dash computer, powered by Microsoft Auto, provides full high-speed Internet access via the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network and works with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. Thanks to Garmin navigation, the system features real-time weather and traffic information, allowing drivers to find the most trouble-free routes.

A History of Strong Products
In addition to taxi leadership, Ford has made a name for itself across the Atlantic for vans such as Transit Connect that people can rely on to get the job done. Transit Connect is designed, engineered and manufactured by Ford of Europe.

Launched in 2003, Transit Connect was named International Van of the Year its first year in-market. Transit Connect will come to the U.S. in summer 2009, as a brand-new offering for small business owners seeking fuel-efficient, flexible transportation with plenty of room to fit their needs.

"Transit Connect provides another example of how Ford is leveraging its global product assets," Fields said. "Small business owners have told us how eager they are to see this product come to the U.S. next year, and it will be interesting to see how many other types of customers might want a Transit Connect in their garage or driveway as well."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Nicer interior than some Ford products we get in Canada and USA...kinda sad (focus, I'm looking at you....)!
        • 7 Years Ago
        This is actually Ford Europe "truck and van" interiour. Easy to clean, hard plastic. If you want to see an interiour that is en par with the rest of the european cars take a close look on the Mondeo.
          • 7 Years Ago
          Haha, yeah I know that! I lived in Europe. I was pointing out that this work truck with hard plastic even LOOKS better than passenger cars we get from Ford. I have been in the new Mondeo first hand.

          Thanks though....
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can't imagine these as Taxicabs in New York, but that's probably because I've been used to seeing Crapices and Crown Vics in the movies since I was born.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Having been to New York several times and made use of their cabs quite often (including the Escape Hybrids), I think this would be the perfect Vic replacement for the streets of Manhattan. Just make sure to keep it yellow!
      • 7 Years Ago
      The impetus for this is the imminent demise of the Crown Vic, not some green movement effort.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It looks like they used the same axleless rear suspension that they had with the "Ford F450 Deep".

      Taxi vans are so much better than the currently re-used crown vic's.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "improved fuel economy and reduced emissions" sounds great and this looks like a nice roomy car too. Pity it isnt a hybrid, i wonder if they have any plans to develop a hybrid taxi in the near future. I think this has great potential!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes it is roomy and it is robust. You do not see those as taxis in Europe very often. Fords own 1.8l TDCi (no PSA cooperation here) just is louder than those engines of most other manufacturers and the live axle in the rear is uncomfortable when not fully loaded.

        You see lots of Transit Connects as plumbers vans and service cars of telecommunication companies though. There is no doubt that a better suspension setup and new engines would make it a great van -- it's four body length-height-combination make for great versatility.

        I assume that this Connect will be sold in the same price range as a F-150 in the US, so it makes perfectly sense for craftsmen that need some weather protection for their equipment and better fuel economy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I thought Taxi ever since playing wit these at the Chicago show. Swapping in the Escape Hybrid drive is a natural. Diesels just don't make sense for NYC traffic. If they changed the barrier and spun the passenger seat, they'd have 4 passenger secure transport. They'd probably deserve a custom tuned suspension though, so they don't rattle to pieces (like Sprinter Shuttles do).
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Escape hybrid drivetrain won't fit into the 1st gen Focus engine compartment. Some smaller soon to be ready euro hybrid system with a 1.4 or 1.6l direct injection engine will fit though.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Good idea but an ugly car. I was very surprised to see it is not a hybrid. Maybe America will finally realize that small fours can be more efficient than some hybrids when driven correctly.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Unfortunately they combine an old school "large" 2.0l I4 that uses indirect injection with a conventional automatic gearbox with torque converter. When using the following technologies Ford has access to, it should be not problem to get much better mileage than an Escape hybrid:

        * Automated regular gearboxes (no third pedal, but the efficiency of a manual), currently often seen in Citroen C4 taxis
        * Small turbocharged direct injection engines
        * Start-stop-function
        * Alternators and pumps that are driven on demand (think BMW Efficient Dynamics)

        A small diesel might provide some more 10 to 20% mileage. We will see, if they are going to federalize a diesel and which engine it would be -- both the 1.6l as well as the 2.0l/2.2l might make sense since the fit into dozens of cars from Ford, Mazda, Volvo, Mini, Peugeot and Mitsubishi.
      • 7 Years Ago
      BTW: The photos show a manual gearbox, thus it is likely that the car pictured is not based on the US version (gasoline engine, automatic transmission) but on the standard EU version with the 1.8l diesel.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Obviously, just look at the tach. :
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