If you regularly take cabs in New York City, there’s a change on the horizon: the familiar, bulletproof-but-gas-guzzling Crown Victoria taxicabs are disappearing, and 400 will soon be replaced by Ford Transit Connect Taxis.

New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved the Ford Transit Connect Taxi as an intermediary vehicle, for use between the phase out of the Crown Victoria and the implementation of the Nissan NV200 in 2013. The New York City cabs will be equipped with a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine, which should return 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

That's not exactly hybrid fuel economy, but compare it to the outgoing Crown Victoria, which gets an estimated 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway. Since the average NYC cab racks up around 70,000 miles per year (virtually all of it in city driving), each of the Transit Connect Taxis will save 1,193 gallons of fuel annually.

Multiplied by 400 cabs, that a savings of 477,200 gallons, just from modernizing a small portion of the NYC taxi fleet.

Speaking of hybrids, NYC currently employs hundreds of Escape Hybrid cabs, some of which have racked up over 300,000 miles in "severe duty" service. The Escape Hybrid taxis return up to 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, which is noticeably better than the Transit Connect Taxi.

But here's the problem: Ford isn't likely to continue production of the Escape Hybrid beyond 2012, and there's no word yet on whether or not its upcoming C-Max Hybrid will be certified for commercial duty.

Los Angeles is embracing Ford's Transit Connect Taxi as well, but in a slightly different version. The Los Angeles metro area's newly-deployed and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered Ford Transit Connect Taxis forgo gasoline for cleaner burning and less expensive CNG.

Ten Ford Transit Connect Taxis have been put into service by California Yellow Cab of Orange County, who has 40 more scheduled for delivery in 2012. Yellow Cab of Anaheim has also placed an order for 69 CNG-powered Transit Connect Taxis, bringing the fleet total to just over 100 units in 2012.

Los Angeles isn’t the only metro area using CNG-powered Ford Transit Connect Taxis; the city joins Las Vegas, St. Louis and Chicago, which have all seen local taxi fleets embrace the vehicles.

The cost savings is significant: the CNG-powered Transit Connect Taxis get the same 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway as their gasoline-powered counterparts, but CNG costs some $2.00 less per gallon equivalent than gasoline. CNG vehicles also produce lower tailpipe emissions, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent compared to petroleum powered Transit Connect models.

[Detroit News, Ford}


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