• Apr 30th 2010 at 11:29AM
  • 34
Ford Transit Connect Taxi – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Ford Transit Connect could soon start plying the streets of America's cities in taxi garb following the decision by Boston to approve the compact van for the new application. Ford announced the taxi package for the Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show in February.

The Transit Connect is expected to start replacing traditional Crown Victoria sedans and will be a more practical alternative to the smaller Escape Hybrid. While the Escape is fuel efficient, it's rather small for cab duty. The Transit Connect can more easily carry three passengers and plenty of luggage or other cargo. Ford has also moved the rear seat back three inches in the taxi version for extra leg room.

The Transit Connect taxi can also be ordered with a package that preps it for conversion to either propane or natural gas fuel systems. Check out video of the Transit Connect taxi after the jump.

[Source: Ford]

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2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi

* The city of Boston says Ford Transit Connect Taxi "fits the bill" as a taxicab, becoming the nation's first municipality to green-light the new taxis
* Boston paves the way for its taxi owners and operators to put the purpose-built Transit Connect Taxi on its streets later this year
* Transit Connect Taxi was designed for passenger comfort, driver convenience and efficiency; the gas-powered version is expected to deliver an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel economy over many traditional taxis

BOSTON, April 30, 2010 – Saying the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi "fits the bill," the city of Boston this week became the first municipality in America to approve the versatile cab for taxi use, paving the way for taxi owners to purchase the new vehicle for their fleets.

"We're very impressed with the Transit Connect," said Mark Cohen, director, Licensing Division, Boston Police Department. "It's the closest thing to a purpose-built vehicle for taxi use that I've seen in 25 years."

Boston, the 10th largest metropolitan area in the United States, regulates which types of vehicles can be used as taxicabs in its city streets. To be approved for taxi use, a vehicle must meet basic size requirements for headroom, legroom and cargo space.

"The size, shape and configuration of the Transit Connect make it comfortable for both driver and passengers," said Cohen. "When the Ford Crown Victoria goes out of production next year the taxi industry here in Boston and throughout the country is going to be looking for alternatives. I think the Transit Connect Taxi fits the bill."

The roomy, flexible interior of the Transit Connect – 2010 North American Truck of the Year – is perfectly suited for taxi service. Its open architecture provides excellent interior headroom and passenger visibility and, with 6.5 inches of ground clearance, passengers step easily through the sliding doors.

With its standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine and automatic transmission, the conventionally powered Transit Connect is expected to deliver an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel economy versus many of today's traditional taxis.

Because taxi operators also asked for a version that runs on alternative fuels, Ford is offering new engine prep packages that allow conversions to both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied propane gas (LPG).

"The vehicle's cargo area easily accommodates CNG tanks directly behind the second-row seat, still allowing ample luggage storage," said Gerald Koss, Ford fleet marketing manager.

Both CNG and LPG lower taxi fleets' operating costs and are better for the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CNG is less expensive and burns cleaner than gasoline, resulting in 30 to 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. Propane also burns cleaner than gasoline.

Built on a dedicated commercial vehicle platform tested to meet Ford's light commercial vehicle durability standards, Ford's new Transit Connect Taxi also features a wiring upfit package, vinyl flooring and standard third-row windows – all of which are factory-installed.

"We really tailored the vehicle to provide comfort and convenience for both driver and passengers," said Chief Engineer Rob Stevens.

He and Koss spent a good part of 2009 taking the Transit Connect Taxi concept to taxi owners and operators in major markets across the United States, gaining valuable feedback that helped Ford further refine the taxi.

"We moved the rear seat back three inches, added a grab handle for passengers to get in and out of the vehicle, and we installed a ventilation unit to heat and cool the second row," said Stevens. "We also added vinyl seats, which taxi operators said they wanted because of their durability."

Technology on the go
Ford – the industry leader in the taxi business for decades with the Crown Victoria and Escape Hybrid – also is collaborating with Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT) to integrate premier payment processing and passenger information technologies in the taxi, including an 8.4-inch electronic infotainment and navigation screen that shows cab fares, news, weather, sports scores and stock ticker. The passenger can select programming, following the taxi's route on a map and scroll through a list of points of interest.

Ford and CMT also are developing strategies for potential integration of Ford Work Solutions™, a suite of productivity technologies for business owners providing a wireless in-dash computer with full high-speed Internet access and navigation.

"Ford continues to invest in fuel-efficient new engines, deliver more technologies and product features in our vehicles, and listen to what people – including taxi fleet operators – really want," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Ford is committed to offering new solutions and maintaining our leadership as America's No. 1 taxi company."


About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      To really get this off the grid, the cargo compartment should be filled with hamster wheels - 80 hamster-power (hp, if you will), and this thing should be able to scoot around Boston just fine.

      Seriously though, I'm in the DC area and am surprised how often I see these around now - in the short time they've been on the market they've been much more successful than the Chevy HHR and PT Cruiser delivery cars, probably the only other "compact" delivery style vehicles available in the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wrong box. It's the Kia Soul that's powered by hamsters.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Kumar...think outside the bun.. put a solar cell on your roof them your outside the grid !!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Perhaps someday solar cells (onboard) will be efficient enough to power cars like this, but that will be more for people living outside of cities and/or in sunnier parts of the country.

        A wind turbine/solar cell/ battery combo used for a house could also charge your car, but it's doubtful a city taxi fleet could implement something like that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cool. I look forward to seeing these around. I'll never be in one though, since the cabs in this town charge WAY too much.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I also see it has an option for CNG. This is great. With more abundant supplies of natural gas being found in the U.S., CNG can be used to replace gasoline use by many taxis.
      • 5 Years Ago
      NYC (any large city) has large supplies of 'natural' gas.
      They should really be harnessing and using it somehow.
      It would be awesome if city buses were 'gas' powered.
      Or even the subways or other electric light rail.

      Heck ... for that matter.. street lamps.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I suspect a loaded down Transit with 3 passengers and a ton of junk won't get 22/25 mpg. I'd think in the high teens.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cool taxi! Makes so much more sense than gas guzzling Crown Vics, and much more practical too. Looks pretty futuristic too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now all they have to do is go electric and get them selfs off the energy grid !!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ford has already announced a plug-in electric version coming Fall 2010.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That makes no sense. If you're all electric, then you're using the grid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think its a great idea !!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe not in Taxi garb, but I've been seeing a ton of Transit Connects around Boston in the last month or so. Ford must really be pumping them out.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've thought the same thing. I've seen a flower shop with one, a grocery store, a couple plumbers, a contractor, and a ton of un-wrapped blanks around Cambridge/I90. Granted, I spend 15+ hours/week driving and see Aston Martins, R8's, and XK's on a fairly regular basis.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks like a schoolbus. I doubt it will be as tough as the crown vic and will likely have more down time for repairs. Also, the roof is too tall. Try to put an ad display panel on the roof and it will be difficult to enter some hotel garages etc. The extended wheelbase crown vic is the best vehicle to use for a taxi. Ford should just continue production for taxi and police use, instead of this thing and the Taurus PI. The worst part of this story is the lose of all those jobs in St Thomas going to Turkey. Shame.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Small vans are popular in Europe, but uncommon here in the US. Ford was smart to just import them first, to "test the waters". IIRC, if demand picks up, it'll be built in NA.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I guess that's what the space above the windshield and windows are for.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great choice for a taxi.
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