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NYC approves Ford Transit Connect for taxi fleet

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 00:00:00 -0700

New York signed off on the Ford Transit Connect to be used for taxi service, paving the way for the nation's largest city to begin switching to the small van in place of the aging Crown Victoria.

The move was announced Thursday after a public hearing; New York joins Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago on the list of major cities that have approved the vehicle for taxi service. The Transit Connect (and Taurus sedan) is approved for use now, but a Nissan van will become the exclusive vehicle in 2013.

The Transit Connect has a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and it gets a combined 23 mpg.

The first Transit Connect taxi was delivered in December to a Boston user, and California has also approved the compressed-natural-gas version for taxi use in that state.

Still, don't expect the long-running Ford Crown Victoria to disappear from the nation's taxi fleets anytime soon. Sales have increased this year as companies stock up on the tried-and-true rear-wheel-drive sedan ahead of its cancellation, so look for them to be in use for years to come.

Today's approval merely means that companies can begin to switch to the Transit Connect van when they need to replace their existing cars.

Fleets—both police and taxi—have faced challenges this year as Ford prepares to end production of the Crown Vic after a run of more than three decades. Based on the Panther platform, the sedan has made up the bulk of fleet sales for years. Ford is trying to get firms to make the transition to the Transit Connect van for taxis and Taurus- and Explorer-based vehicles for police use.

By Greg Migliore