— The San Francisco Yellow Cab Cooperative announced on February 22 that it has purchased 10 2005 Ford Escape Hybrids. This makes San Francisco the first city in United States to use hybrid sport/utility vehicles as taxicabs, according to the Web site, www.autospectator.com
. Mayor Gavin Newsom welcomed the new vehicles at City Hall. "San Francisco is proud to be the first city in the United States using hybrid SUVs as taxis. Our city and county take great pride in being socially responsible, and adding these Escape Hybrids, the most fuel-efficient SUV available, is a big step toward making our civic transportation cleaner and more environmentally friendly."The gasoline-electric Ford Escape Hybrids, which first took to the streets in December, are owned and operated by Yellow Cab Cooperative, which purchased them from San Francisco's S & C Ford. Nate Dwiri, president of the Yellow Cab Co-op, said, "The Ford Escape Hybrid is ideal for our company. It gets better mileage in the city than on the highway, making it perfect for our streets, and its fuel economy is far better than other cabs in our fleet. And it's roomier than other hybrids on the market."In addition to the 10 Ford Escape Hybrid taxis operated by the Yellow Cab Cooperative, Luxor Cab Company of San Francisco has begun running a fleet of five Escape Hybrid Taxis purchased from S&C Ford earlier this year.The 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid has a full-hybrid system that enables it to run on its gasoline engine, electric battery power, or both together. Its steering and handling and available four-wheel drive deliver a driving experience unlike any other hybrid vehicle. It has earned the highest fuel economy numbers for an SUV as certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - the front-wheel-drive model achieves 36 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The Ford Escape Hybrid was named " 2005 North American Truck of the Year" by a panel of journalists from the United States and Canada.