Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The New and Improved Taxi is here!

Taxis are getting progressively eco-friendly through the embrace of more fuel-efficient, zero-emissions technologies, which is great for fleet operators, passengers and pedestrians alike. Ford Motor Company, the leader in the North American taxi market, is enabling that trend to continue with its Ford Transit Connect Taxi, which is currently available at Gresham Ford.

The roomy, flexible interior of the Transit Connect – the 2010 North American Truck of the Year – is perfectly suited for taxi service. The vehicle’s 135 cubic feet of cargo space accommodates a compressed gas tank while leaving ample passenger legroom and cargo capacity. With 21 MPG in the city and 25 on the highway this is a highly economical vehicle for Oregon and Washington.

And eleven minutes ago Ford released this press release -
Ford Motor Company is unveiling the all-electric version of the Ford Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show; the small electric van will be in fleet operators’ hands later this year, according to the company. The 2011 Transit Connect Electric will use a Force Drive electric powertrain manufactured and integrated by specialty upfitter Azure Dynamics. (Earlier post.) The vehicle is powered by a liquid-cooled 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack from Johnson Controls-Saft. (Azure Dynamics and Ford both currently use Johnson Controls-Saft battery technology for other products as well.)

Ford also announced that the Ford Transit Connect Taxi will go into production and arrive in dealerships later this year as a 2011 model. Ford will introduce engine prep packages on all Transit Connect models—base and taxi—allowing conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane (LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas) of the 2.0-liter Duratec engine.

Electric Transit Connect. System voltage range is 260 - 380 V. The electric powertrain includes:

•Siemens model 135, 300V 3-phase AC liquid-cooled induction motor, 158 Nm continuous, 235 Nm peak
•Borg-Warner 31-03 single speed transmission, gear ratio 8.28:1
•28 kWh, 16-module (192 cells) JCS Li-ion pack
•Pack voltage range 215 - 390 V, 3.3 kW charger
•TDK, 100A output DC/DC converter
The electric van will accelerate at approximately the same rate as the gas-powered Transit Connect and will have a top speed at 0% grade of 75 mph (121 km/h), with a targeted range of up to 80 miles (129 km) on a full charge.
Owners will have the option of recharging the Transit Connect Electric with either a standard 120V outlet or preferably a 240V charge station installed at the user’s base of operations for optimal recharging in six to eight hours. A transportable cord that works with both types of outlets will be available for recharging at both kinds of locations.

Both the Transit Connect Electric and its gasoline-powered twin offer:

•135 cubic feet of cargo volume with 59.1 inches of floor-to-ceiling load height and 47.8 inches of load width between the wheel arches
•72.6 inches of load space
•Split rear cargo doors that open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optionally available 255 degrees
•Lift-over height less than two feet when the vehicle is unloaded
•Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering allows a 39-foot curb-to-curb turning circle for maneuverability in tight urban spaces
The vehicle has a projected life of 10 years/120,000 miles. A 5 year/60,000 mile warranty covers the Azure powertrain and modified components.
In addition to the Transit Connect Electric, Ford plans to bring three more electrified vehicles to market by 2012 - the Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in 2012 and a next-generation hybrid in 2012.

The Transit Connect Taxi’s cargo area accommodates compressed natural gas tanks directly behind the second-row seat, still allowing ample luggage storage. Click to enlarge.

Ford Transit Connect Taxi.The Transit Connect’s 135 cubic feet of cargo space accommodates a compressed gas tank while leaving ample passenger legroom and cargo capacity.

While meeting with taxi operators in cities throughout the US, we found considerable interest for vehicles that run on alternative fuels. The Transit Connect Taxi, combined with an engine modified by Ford to use CNG/LPG, is designed to meet that need. This marks a new era in ‘green’ transit.

-- Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas