• Mar 19, 2008
Click above for a high-res gallery of the Ford Transit Connect Taxi

Where better than New York for Ford to show off a taxi cab? And what better platform than the company's new Transit Connect van? Ford's Mark Fields and designer J. Mays were on hand for the unveiling of the Transit Connect Taxi Concept, and both were somehow amazed at the applause the concept generated. Seeing as how there were only a handful of us there and that the rest of the crowd consisted of Ford employees, we find it hard to believe there wouldn't be applause aplenty. Seriously though, this is one fun cab. After spending some time in the regular fleet of bumblebee-colored Crown Vics this past week, we can attest that the Transit Connect Taxi has a lot of things that make it a natural improvement over current standard taxis. Our favorite was the panoramic roof that allows passengers to take in tall buildings with a single glance, but we also liked the flexible seating and cargo configurations, as well as the funky interactive infotainment system for the back seat. Although it looks a bit large in photos, the Transit Connect Taxi Concept actually has a small footprint vehicle and seems like it could go four-wide where the Vics can only manage three abreast. Check out the press release after the jump and all of our live high-res pics in the gallery.


[Source: Ford]

PRESS RELEASE:

FORD TRANSIT CONNECT TAXI CONCEPT OFFERS NEW PERSPECTIVE ON URBAN TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

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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  • 33 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good idea, but come on 19 mpg. I can only assume that this will eventually have more engine options, otherwise the incentive for cab companies to replace is not high enough.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks nice. There already are taxis for moms, they're called Mini-vans or Micro-vans (think Mazda5 or Kia Rondo, but they're not that popular.) This van is too boxy and low to the ground for the suburban mom-van. The Mom-van has to be an SUV with at least 8 inches ground clearance.

      I second this as a major fuel-saver over the 4.6 V-8 currently in use. It might not have the same step-off as the V-8, but when you only have to fill up 1/2 as often, I'm sure that's a big plus.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Much better than the Crown Vic.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Wheauh am I?"

      "You're in a JohnnyCab!"

      "I mean, what am I doing heauh?"

      "I'm sorry. Would you please rephrase the question?"

      "HOW DID I GETINH DIS TAXI?"

      "The door opened, you got in!"
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes PLEASE... I *hate* Crown Vic cabs. Nothing like sitting in a hole and corkscrewing like a dinghy in a hurricane to de-stress on your way home.

        19 MPG would also be an improvement. 4.6-liter V8s that make 224 horsepower and never top 50 mph are just about the stupidest thing you could put in a taxicab.

        Bring on the JohnnyCab!
      • 6 Years Ago
      NINETEEN MPG?

      HELLO.

      I don't care if its cleaner than what it replaces. I think its abysmal anyone would dare market something that will be driven so many miles and has such poor mileage figures.

      This thing begs to be a hybrid.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Cabs / Taxis need to be efficient and easily repairable which is the same for cop cars etc. If they went hybrid on these at this point they wouldn't be able to service the hybrids! Generally speaking this is a nice blend of efficiency and effectiveness. I love the roof too! But as the past article said, it probably won't happen on the fleet models. The Taxi Ads wouldn't have anywhere to be placed!
        • 6 Years Ago
        As I commented in the previous post. It will HAVE to be Hybrid in NY.

        "In December, the TLC voted unanimously to approve regulations that will require all yellow taxis licensed after October 1, 2008, to meet fuel efficiency standards currently only achievable through the use of hybrid technology."

        http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&catID=1194&doc_name=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyc.gov%2Fhtml%2Fom%2Fhtml%2F2008a%2Fpr067-08.html&cc=unused1978&rc=1194&ndi=1
        • 6 Years Ago
        Chris,
        are you a complete idiot? "estimated" mpg for city of 19mpg is not bad at all for a roomy van. That is probably better than EVERYTHING else out there. And what do you care as long as your fare is low and you have a roomy taxi to travel in that has that cool as heck vista roof?

        You sound like a hater to me.
        • 6 Years Ago
        19 mpg in the city. I think it's not that bad.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You are right: Combining the old 2.0l I4 with the old automatic transmission with torque converter is the worst thing to do. Any combination of a smaller engine and a more efficiant gear box should result in better values. Unfortunately Ford does not yet offer a hybrid drive train that fits into the 1st gen Focus engine bay (these cars are closely related). With a direct injection 1.4l in combination with a hybrid drive train not only 30% better mpg (compared to the Crown Vic) but 100% would have been the result.

        So the can present 30% improvement every year: now the Transit Connect without focusing on the engines, in 2009 a small turbocharged direct injection engine and in 2010 the hybrid.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Chris,

        Ever been in a city taxi? Most city cab drivers are two foot drivers. Hit the gas hard to cut into traffic, jam the brake to avoid hitting the guy in front of you. For those in the back seat, it is a roller coaster ride of pushed back into the seat on accell and flung forward when the brakes are mashed.

        If this type of driving is used, hybrids quickly lose their advantage over regular gas engines. Hybrid gas engines turn on with around 25% or higher throttle input and quickly lose mpg. Heavy city traffic like NYC or Chicago are not the best use of a hybrid powertrain with their especially dense, aggressive traffic.

        19 mpg under those conditions is a huge improvement over what any other taxi is getting now and there's no additional cost of the hybrid system.
      • 6 Years Ago
      19mpg is tame, but you can't argue with 90% fewer emissions.

      It's ugly, but I love it already! I'm surprised to see all the positive feedback it's getting. Score one for practicality.



      • 6 Years Ago
      its better then a CrownVic and thats good....The car has small foot print which would make driving alot easier....Eveything about it makes it better then whats currently on the market for Taxis...Although I would had preffered the London taxi.
      • 6 Years Ago
      5-spd in NY traffic. Cabbies can barely operate automatics.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The press release says "With its standard, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission"

        The manual transmission will disappear as soon as the US-SPEC side makers appear.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The concept is based on the European Transit Connect. The speedometer shows km/h. Open the hood and you'll find the loud old 1.8l eight valve diesel.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Box the driver in and flip the front passenger seat around so you can fit 4 people and luggage. Probably easier to do in area's where there is no separator between the pass and driver.

      Really like the concept.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Needs to be a hybrid, but the platform is a natural for New York, or any Cab Company.

      I can't believe this wasn't done years ago.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Five years ago, when the Connect went into sale in Europe?

        I remember lots of ads in Turkish language newspapers in Germany trying to convince turkish grocery strore owners to buy the turkish made Transit Connect panel van.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Interestingly, Ford offers a CVT/1.6L diesel drivetrain in the Euro Focus.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I second the idea of a retail version. As any mom will say one of their major jobs is taxi for the kids. I think it could compete well with the minivan segment.

      One other thing I saw is that even mom would like to have her car be personalized. Imagine a set of customizable graphics for a mom car.
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