Last February, Ford announced the availability of a taxi package for its Transit Connect. The Transit Connect Taxi, purchasable with either a standard gasoline engine or prepped for the conversion to propane or natural gas fuel systems, is expected to slowly replace many of the traditional Crown Victorias that serve taxi duty across much of the nation, in orders of a dozen or two at a time.
Last June, California Yellow Cab placed an order for 25 CNG-fueled Transit Connect to serve the streets of Orange County, CA. Now, Chicago's Taxi Medallion Management (TMM) has placed a 12-unit order for Ford's Transit Connect Taxis. TMM has elected for the compressed natural gas version of the Transit Connect compact van, which will supposedly help the TMM clean up its fleet and help it reduce overall emissions by 25 percent. All 12 taxis will bear Yellow Cab Chicago's logo and color scheme.
Ford Transit Connect Taxis to Hit the Streets of Chicago and Run on Clean-Burning Natural Gas
* First Ford Transit Connect Taxis to be delivered in March to one of the largest cab companies in Chicago
* Vehicles will run on clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG), which cuts back on greenhouse emissions
* Vehicles include more room for passengers and new features for drivers such as the rear view camera
Ford Transit Connect Taxis will begin winding through the streets of the Windy City in March when a fleet of the alternative-fuel vehicles joins Yellow Cab Chicago.
Taxi Medallion Management purchased the 12 clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) Transit Connect Taxis for its fleet. The cabs will be affiliated with Yellow Cab Chicago and bear the company's logo and color.
The purchase is part of the company's goal of reducing emissions by 25 percent, said Michael Levine, CEO of Taxi Medallion Management. 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.
"We are adding vehicles with more fuel-efficient gasoline engines, as well as vehicles with alternative-fuel sources, to find a vehicle mix that best suits our customers, our drivers, the city at large and the environment," said Levine. "We are excited about testing this new vehicle."
The Ford dealership, Packey Webb Ford, of Downers Grove, Ill., will deliver the taxi units to Taxi Medallion Management with an engine preparation package for conversion to CNG.
Since introduced as a production vehicle last year, Transit Connect Taxi is gaining interest from taxi operators around the country. The first taxi was delivered to Boston Cab Dispatch in December 2010.
"During product development of this vehicle, we visited cities across the U.S. speaking with taxi owners, operators, drivers and city officials on the key product attributes they wanted in a taxi," said Gerald Koss, Ford Fleet marketing manager. "Of course reliability and durability were key, but fuel-efficient powertrains and sustainable solutions also were high on their lists."
The Transit Connect Taxi package adds comfort for the passenger with a repositioned second-row seat for more legroom, grab handles and a rear ventilation system with passenger controls. For the driver, in addition to the comfortable driving environment, new features include rear view camera and back-up sensor, heavy-duty battery and wiring block connector to power upfitted accessories. The taxis have a 39-foot turning radius that provides excellent driving dynamics and takes the hassle out of tight spots.
The standard Ford Transit Connect – 2010 North American Truck of the Year – features a 2.0-liter I-4 engine that gets EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel economy compared with traditional taxis.
In addition to CNG, Transit Connect Taxi is available with an engine preparation package for conversion to liquefied propane gas (LPG). Both CNG and LPG lower taxi fleets' operating costs and are better for the environment.
During its first full year of production, 27,405 Transit Connect vehicles were sold in the United States. Demand for Transit Connect continues to grow as evidenced by the 41 percent year-over-year increase in sales for December 2010.
In addition, several organizations with large fleets purchased Transit Connects including Best Buy, Edible Arrangements, ThyssenKrupp Elevator and DTE Energy.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 163,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.