The Ford Transit Connect Taxi will start to be seen on the streets of New York later in the summer. The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission gave its approval at a public hearing for the version of Ford's Transit Connect van for taxi use.
Last May, Nissan was awarded a 10-year contract for its NV200 van to serve as the official New York City taxi starting in 2013. The other companies that wanted this 13,000-vehicle deal were Ford and Turkish automaker Karsan Otomotiv.
In Ford’s bid, it proposed the use of the Transit Connect Taxi as the exclusive New York taxi. Commission spokesman Allan Fromberg said that upon the realization that 60% of the New York taxi fleet was composed of the aging Ford Crown Victoria, it decided to approve other vehicles that meet interim "specifications to bridge the gap" until the arrival of the NV200. The Nissan Altima also received approval to supply a part of the interim taxi fleet.
Nissan said that that there are about 300 Altima hybrids that are used in New York as taxis. The non-hybrid version of the Altima also got approval. In a statement, Ford said that the first Transit Connect Taxi started service in Boston last December.
Over 100 vehicles were added to taxi fleets in Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere. Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said that for many years, Ford has been “synonymous” with New York City taxis. He expressed pleasure that New York will soon benefit from its next-generation vehicle.
Ford’s new Transit Connect Taxi is a great transportation option for people and cargo because of its impressive interior package. It features an open architecture with generous headroom for excellent passenger visibility. The taxi’s rear seat is three inches farther back for extra passenger space and comfort and its ground clearance of 6.5 inches enables easier passenger boarding through its two sliding doors. Also, the car has more climate control ventilation for passengers at the rear seats.
The Ford Transit Connect Taxi has a wiring upfit package with an opening in the roof for signage, sliding middle row windows, standard rear row windows, vinyl seats and rubber rear floor. These are all installed in the vehicle’s assembly. Custom modifications such as auxiliary systems, roof signage and a seating partition can be done by local taxi upfitters.
The taxi’s cargo area is spacious enough that compressed natural gas tanks can be placed behind the second row seats while still having sufficient cargo space.
Technology on board
The Ford Transit Connect Taxi has a premier payment processing and passenger information system developed through Ford’s partnership with Creative Mobile Technologies, LLC (CMT).
Ford and CMT are also planning for the incorporation of Ford Work Solutions, a business productivity technology system in a wireless dashboard computer with broadband internet connectivity and navigation. According to Jason Poliner, Chief Operating Officer of CMT, Ford has proven its continued support for the taxi industry, first with their vehicle, and then with their collaboration with technology companies that also show the same support. The Transit Connect Taxi is Ford’s way of asserting that apart from just the vehicle, the taxi business is actually “a complete technological solution."
The Ford Transit Connect Taxi shows the future practical application of Ford Work Solutions. The system includes an 8.4-inch multipurpose touchscreen for entertainment, information and navigation. It displays the taxi fare, news, stocks, sports scores and the weather. It allows passengers to choose a program to watch, see a map of the taxi’s current path, or view information from a list of interests such as restaurants, shops and museums along the journey.
Upon reaching the destination, the fare is shown on the screen along with cash, credit or debit payment options. Cards can be swiped and the touchscreen can be used to enter an amount for tipping or to select a recommended amount. The transaction can be conveniently completed inside the taxi.
Progressing taxi industry leadership
Ford has been working on a “green” taxi for some time already. In fact, the company’s leadership in the taxi industry has been going on for several decades. The Ford Escape Hybrid was the first gas-electric hybrid taxi in North America when it joined the fleets of New York and San Francisco in 2005.
The Ford Transit Connect Taxi is adapted from a dedicated commercial vehicle platform and underwent Ford’s tough truck testing. Both the petrol and CNG/LPG-powered versions are designed specifically for unique requirements of taxi service.
The Ford Transit Connect Taxi is powered by a standard 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and has automatic transmission. It is designed to be up to 30 percent more fuel efficient than conventional taxis.
Gerry Koss, the fleet marketing manager of Ford, confirmed the Ford Transit Connect Taxi as having outstanding commercial versatility, and that the CNG/LPG conversion is additional proof of its adaptability.