AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
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.
It won the North American truck of the year award and in the commercial sector, the Transit Connect has been generating a lot of interest over the last year. The Turkish built, small delivery van has been on sale in Europe since 2002, but was only introduced to our market last year. As Ford is retiring its fleet mainstay, the Crown Victoria sedan in 2011, many government agencies and taxi fleet operators are looking at a suitable replacement. With its small size, tight turning radius, significant interior capacity and decent fuel economy, the Transit Connect is seen as a logical alternative to the Vic taxi by some. Recently, the city of Boston announced that it will be adding these vehicles to its taxi fleets in the fall of this year, making it the first major American metropolis to do so.
According to Mark Cohen, Licensing Director for the Boston Police department that issues cab licenses, “we’ve been very impressed with the Transit Connect. The size, shape and configuration make it comfortable for the driver and passengers. It’s the closest thing to a purpose-built vehicle for taxi use that I’ve seen in 25 years.”
Besides space; durability, ease of maintenance and the ability to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) are all high priorities for taxi fleets. In addition to the Transit Connect’s 2.0-liter gas engine, the company will also be offering new pre prep conversions that allow the vehicle to run on CNG or LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). Even without that, if the Transit Connect proves successful as a taxi, it is likely to boost the average fuel economy of taxi fleets by as much as 30 percent.
[Source: Ford Motor Company]
Electric commercial vehicle set to go into production later this year
Ford has just announced two new versions of its Transit Connect commercial vehicle, which recently won the 2010 North American Truck of the Year award. Up first is the Transit Connect Electric, the first electric vehicle Ford will offer, using a lithium-ion battery. It can travel up to 80 miles on a charge, which takes about 6 to 8 hours to complete from either a 120-volt or 140-volt outlet. Ford claims a similar acceleration time to the gas-powered model although storage space is reduced somewhat to 135 cu.-ft. The vehicle is designed for fleets where driver’s have a pre-set route and a centralized location for recharging.
The Transit Connect Electric will go into production later this year, with a Focus Electric planned soon after.
Ford will show the TC EV at the Chicago Auto Show later this week, alongside another new Transit Connect model, the TC Taxi. Set to go on sale later this year as well, the TC Taxi features as second row seat that has been moved back by 3-inches for added legroom, while the engine has been converted to run on either natural gas or propane. Ford says the TC Taxi should deliver a 30 percent fuel economy improvement over traditional taxis. Other highlights include rear-seat climate controls, rear power windows and a touch-screen in the rear that can show things like maps, TV shows or payment info.
Both the Transit Connect Electric and Transit Connect Taxi will be officially unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday, February 10th.
GALLERY: Ford Transit Connect Electric
GALLERY: Ford Transit Connect Taxi
Official release after the jump: