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From a moving van to moving the stars
Bigger isn’t always better, although domestic automakers are pretending not to hear you when it comes to compact pickups. Why?
With the outdated Crown Victoria taxi being put to rest, the competition to select the future NYC cab has turned into a fierce fight.
Three different models were chosen to be tested including the Nissan NV200, Ford Transit Connect and the Turkish entry, the Karsan V1. Ultimately the NV200 was chosen to serve for the next ten years, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) could approve other vehicles for the fleet. The Transit Connect was among the vehicles selected for approval, and taxi companies can choose to add the Ford van as well. New York will join Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia where officials have approved Transit Connect Taxis for use.
“For decades, Ford has been synonymous with New York City taxis, and we are pleased residents and tourists now will benefit from our next-generation vehicle,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas.
Today, the Ford Transit Connect is targeted at taxi and delivery business. The vehicle is reasonably priced, great on gas and is nimble through narrow streets. However, Ford may choose to offer a seven-passenger version for young families that are not interested in bulky minivans. The next-generation Transit Connect arrives in a few years, and will allegedly be assembled in North America as a more refined vehicle. The current Transit Connect is produced in Turkey and the price comes in around $24,000 to $25,000 making it a very competitive alternative to minivans. Both gasoline and electric versions are offered, as well as models with side winds and panels.
Strictly looking at this vehicle from a business perspective, adding a new variant to the Transit Connect would increase variety thereby appealing to at least two very different demographics: commercial use, and family use.
[Source: Automotive News]
Bringing commercial vans from Europe to North America seems to be a growing trend among Detroit Automakers. It first began with the Dodge Sprinter (a Mercedes in all but name), then Ford followed with the tiny Transit Connect.
Now Chrysler, thanks to its alliance with Fiat is at it again, this time looking at bringing the IVECO daily to North American shores.
“It’s part of what we’re considering,” said Ram Truck CEO Fred Diaz in a recent statement. The Daily has long been a direct competitor to the Sprinter in Europe, where it’s offered in cargo and passenger configurations, with a choice of single and dual rear wheels and as a complete van or chassis cab.
Powertrain options across the pond include 2.3-liter and 3.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines. Ram division is also considering Americanized versions of the Fiat Ducato light commercial van and confirmed that a version of the Fiat Doblo, which in Europe, competes directly with Ford’s Transit Connect, will also becoming to our shores.
But considering that the Daily and Ducato virtually occupy the same segment in their home market, is there room in North America for both vans? Difficult to say at this point in time, though in the short-term, it’s likely only one will get the green light. Given that the Daily boasts higher gross vehicle weights and load capacities than the Ducato, it probably makes more sense to import the former, especially for specialized school bus and larger camper conversions which require heavier-duty chassis. Stay tuned for more developments.
The Ford Transit Connect XLT has taken off with the commercial vehicle set, and even non-car-loving folks have come to know them for their distinctive shape, calling them “bread vans” or “ice cream trucks”.
Ford seems to have finally listened to the internet and produced an honest civilian version of the Transit Connect, and it looks pretty damn cool. Dubbed the Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon, the Turkish-built van can seat five, and comes with civilizing features like rear windows, a blind-spot avoidance system, a backup camera, and some pretty nice alloy wheels. The high roof and massive cargo compartment will no doubt endear it to buyers who need that sort of thing – we wonder if this car will be a new entry into the wheelchair-accessible market due to its generous interior dimensions. More likely than not you’ll be seeing a “stanced” Transit Connect on your favorite car blog sometime soon.
Gallery: Ford Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon
A pushpin that holds the Transit Connect’s headliner in place could come loose, a seemingly minor error that according to Ford’s statement on a NHTSA website, “…could exceeded head injury criteria requirements set by the standard,”. Ford said the safety recall for the Transit Connect is expected to begin “on or about” July 19.
Chrysler is recalling the aforementioned vehicles due to “defective brake tubes” that could lead to a loss of brake fluid. Anything involving the brake systems should be attended to right away, and owners should service this problem immediately, when Chrysler begins the recall in August.
For those of us who couldn’t attend the Goodwood Festival Of Speed, don’t fret, because we’ve managed to compile all of the best videos into one handy post. All of them feature some kind of pricey sports car running up the hill at Lord March’s Estate. Sit back, turn up your speakers, and enjoy. There’s a surprise at the very end as well.
Hit the jump to view the videos
It’s no secret that Ford‘s Transit Connect, the small delivery van built in Turkey has been making waves among fleet operators since its arrival on these shores last year. In particular, the vehicle’s exterior dimensions, turning radius and interior capacity relative to its size have caught the eyes of taxi companies. An operator in Boston recently became the first to purchase an order of Transit Connects and now, Yellow Cab of California is following suit.
Tim Conlon, President of Yellow Cab in the Golden State, was also attracted to the Transit because of Ford’s alternative fuel prep package. Many local municipalities in California are mandating the adoption of standards for cleaner, low carbon fuels for commercial vehicle fleets, so for Conlon, purchasing Transit Connects for Yellow’s Santa Ana fleet and having them converted to run on Compressed Natural Gas seemed like a no brainer.
“California Yellow Cab started to use natural gas in 2002 before there were many refueling stations,” Conlon stated. “Now that the infrastructure has built up, we’ll be able to help protect Orange County’s air quality even more with the Transit Connect. It’s a perfect fit for our drivers, and its roomy, easy-to-access interior will appeal to our customers as well.”
Because of the Transit Connect”s interior configuration and packaging, a natural gas tank can be installed, while still leaving ample room for passengers and luggage, yet emissions can be reduced by as much as 40 percent over comparable gasoline fueled vehicles. Making the idea even more favorable for taxi companies like Yellow, is the fact that around 87 percent of natural gas in the United States is domestically produced, reducing overseas dependence on fuel sources for vehicles.
With the acquisition of the Transit Connect CNG taxis, Yellow will become the first cab company in Southern California with 50 percent of its vehicle fleet running on alternative fuels.
We still have more than half of 2009 to go and already the list of 2010 North American Car & Truck of the Year nominees have been picked. That’s because the list is essentially a list of every new model for 2010.
Nominated for car of the year are: the Audi S4, BMW Z4, BMW 335d, BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Fusion, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Mustang, For Mustang GT500, Ford Taurus, Ford Taurus SHO, Honda Insight, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Lexus HS250h, Lotus Evora, Mazda3, MazdaSpeed3, Mercedes E-Class, Nissan Cube, Nissan 370Z, Porsche Panamera, Subaru Legacy, Suzuki Kizashi, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Golf TDI.
The 2010 North American Truck of the Year list is only slightly shorter and includes: the Acura ZDX, BMw X5 xDrive 35d, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect, GMC Terrain, Honda Crosstour, Land Rover LR4, Lincoln MKT, Subaru Outback, Toyota 4Runner and Volvo XC60.
Many off these vehicles have yet to be officially released and some (like the Honda Crosstour) haven’t even been officially named yet.
Jurors will now begin the lengthy process of making a short list, with the final winners chosen at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Last year’s winners were the Hyundai Genesis and the Ford F-150.