Hot on the (w)heels of the Ford Transit Electric, the Transit Connect Taxi drove onto the stage at the Chicago Auto Show today running on compressed natural gas (CNG). The clean-burning utility van – based on the gasoline-powered North American Truck of the Year winner – adds to Ford's taxi fleet options like the Crown Victoria (see: pretty much any taxi in any city in the U.S.) and the Ford Escape Hybrid. The new taxi van can also burn propane (LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas). Of course, regular Transit Connect buyers can also opt for Ford's engine prep package to be able to put the gasoline alternatives into the tank. Like its battery-powered cousin, the Transit Connect Taxi will be in dealerships later this year.
Ford product development vice president Derrick Kuzak said that there is "strong demand" for CNG and LPG vehicles among fleet operators. Kuzak also highlighted the small size of the Transit Connect in an odd way: if all of the taxis in Chicago were replaced with these vans, he said, it would free up approximately four acres. Um, OK. Now, what should we do with these extra acres?