Ford will introduce a taxi model of the Ford Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show today. Powered with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the van will hit production later this year as a 2011 model.
The taxi will also be able to run on either natural gas, propane, or normal petrol. With a separation between the driver and passengers, Ford decided to keep the vehicle with only three seats in back, choosing instead to keep 135 cubic feet of cargo. This surprising decision may be due to the fact that compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (propane) tanks could take up too much room for an extra row of seating.
This decision could lead to limited sales, because taxi vans usually accommodates more passengers than sedans.
Still, for Ford, the main selling point is a roomy vehicle capable of running on less costly fuel. "While meeting with taxi operators in cities throughout the U.S., we found considerable interest for vehicles that run on alternative fuels," said Ford executive Mark Fields. Tax credits are also available in the U.S. on vehicles that run on natural gas.
Standard equipment includes wiring for roof signage, and a vinyl and rubber interior allowing cab drivers to hose out as much vomit as possible. Onboard computers and high-speed internet access is also available. The 8.4-inch touchscreen can show cab fare, in addition to internet material, and can be configured to give credit card and debit card payment information.