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Hybrid Taxis from Ford Help Clean City Air and Cut Costs

October 2006, by Paul Dexler - Also by this author

Hybrid vehicles, particularly those that use the parallel, or full, hybrid system achieve greatest improvement in fuel economy during stop-and-go driving, when the electric motor is most efficient. In fact, the Escape hybrid provides approximately 80-percent better fuel economy in city driving than the conventional V-6 Escape. And, the Escape hybrid can travel more than 400-500 miles in city driving on a single tank of gasoline. All of which, when combined with the ability to comfortably carry five people and a good-sized load of luggage, makes the Escape hybrid a good choice for taxi service.

Chicago, San Francisco, and New York are the first cities to formally approve vehicles such as the Escape hybrid for taxi use to help meet clean air targets.

Escape Takes Hybrid Tech Tour

Ford undertook an eight-city, crosscountry tour to promote hybrid technology. The tour began June 8 in Chicago, where Ford officials presented city officials with a Ford Escape hybrid taxi for demonstration and evaluation. The goal of such evaluations by high-profile city taxi fleets — and grueling taxi duty — is to create awareness of Ford’s background in hybrid technology, and to underscore the technology’s durability.

“The Escape Hybrid taxi program is an exciting collaboration between carmakers, policy makers, and fuel providers,” says Nancy Gioia, director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs. “It’s this type of collaboration that will help us meet our goal of reducing oil consumption, reducing smog, and improving fuel economy.”

Currently, approximately 40 Escape hybrid taxis operate on San Francisco streets, some with more than 125,000 miles on the odometer. Another 22 Escape hybrid taxis service passengers in New York City, with a total of almost 50,000 miles logged on the streets of Manhattan. The fleets have been such a success that additional Escape hybrid taxis are on order in both cities.

The Escape hybrid is EPA-rated at 36 miles per gallon in city driving, making it the most fuel-efficient SUV available.

Savings Mount Up Fast

According to Paul Gillespie, who drives an Escape Hybrid taxi in San Francisco, driving the Ford model saves him up to $30 per shift in fuel costs. Working four shifts a week for a year could equal savings of more than $6,000. “The fuel economy of the Escape hybrid can put thousands of dollars back in drivers’ pockets, plus it helps decrease emissions,” says Gillespie. Gillespie has been driving an Escape hybrid since November 2004. His cab has traveled more than 125,000 miles without any major mechanical repairs.

The reliability of Gillespie’s vehicle is the rule, rather than the exception. For taxi owners, the Escape hybrid is proving to be remarkably durable, capable of surviving around-the-clock use in one of the most severe driving conditions any vehicle will face. This durability is backed by a standard 8-year / 100,000-mile limited warranty for unique hybrid components, including the battery pack.

Helping Clean the Air

For city officials, Escape hybrid taxis are helping meet clean-air targets. In the course of traveling 100,000 miles, the Escape hybrid conserves approximately 1,666 gallons of gas over a traditional cab, effectively preventing 32,000 lbs. of carbon emissions.

In addition, the Escape hybrid dramatically reduces smog-forming emissions, as it meets the cleanest emissions standard available for a vehicle that uses fossil fuels — California’s AT-PZEV standard.

“The Escape hybrid taxi fleet is an extreme, but real-world testament to the economic advantages, environmental benefits, and reliability of Ford’s hybrid technology,” says Gioia. “We’re taking the Escape hybrid taxi presentation to other progressive cities across the country to help increase awareness of the benefits the Escape hybrid has to offer cities, taxi drivers, and consumers.”

Committed to the Future

Ford Motor Company remains committed to creating a better world as a key element in the automaker’s strategy for the future. Last fall, then-Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford laid out a blueprint for the company’s future — focusing every aspect of the business on innovation as its core strategy going forward.

His vision is to offer transportation affordable in every sense of the word — socially and environmentally, as well as economically.

More Hybrids to Come

To realize that vision, Ford continues to invest in hybrid technology. And, in 2008, Ford will have five hybrids on the road, including hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize sedans. Ford has also announced hybrid versions of the Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego, built in Chicago.

Ford also continues to research and develop hydrogen vehicles, including hydrogen internal combustion engines and hydrogen fuel cells in Ford Focus and Explorers and is working with strategic partners, such as BP, on research into alternative fuels, such as clean diesels, ethanol, and hydrogen. The BP partnership also extends to consumer education initiatives, including support on the Escape hybrid evaluation tour.

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