Taxi fleets across the U.S. will be running on compressed natural gas (CNG) with the addition of the 2011 Ford Transit Connect.
Chicago received 12 of the Ford Transit Connects just this week, with other cities including Las Vegas, Philadelphia and St. Louis planning to make the transition very soon. Taxicab companies in Los Angeles ordered 120, and companies in nearby Anaheim and Orange County recently ordered 119 of the Ford Transit Connect. By the end of the summer, 70 CNG Transit taxis will be available to hail in West Haven and Hartford, Conn.
“The Transit Connect Taxi was developed using market research we conducted with the taxi industry to better understand what customers wanted in a future vehicle,” said Gerald Koss, marketing manager, Ford Fleet Operations. “The more conversations we had, the more interest we saw in a taxi with the flexibility of offering a compressed natural gas version.”
With the approval of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which approved the Transit Connect Taxis to run on CNG, Larry Gach, sales manager of Ford Commercial Trucks Sales and Marketing, expects the orders from California to increase. The CARB certification, approved through the California Environmental Protection Agency, requires that the vehicle’s exhaust and evaporative emissions control systems are durable and comply with the emission standards for the vehicle’s useful life.
The fuel efficiency of the Transit Connect is not the only feature that is winning over transit companies. According to Fred Sweets of St. Louis American Cab, he was drawn to the Transit Connect for its spaciousness and began conducting his own research on the vehicle by asking small businesses that used the van for delivery purposes.
“I asked them how they liked it, what their mileage was and how it was holding up,” said Sweets. “I got nothing but praise for the vehicle. I knew then that I had to add it to our fleet.”