Residents of Chicago will spot a new arrival on their roads in March. Taxi Medallion Management has purchased 12 compressed natural gas (CNG) Ford Transit Connect Taxis, which will be affiliated with the Yellow Cab Chicago and sport its logo and color.
“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 Michael Levine, CEO of Taxi Medallion Management. “We are excited about testing this new vehicle.” The purchase of the clean-burning vehicles is part of the company’s goal of reducing emissions by 25 percent.
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. In addition to the comfortable driving environment, new features for the driver include a rearview 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.