Ford calls the Transit Connect a game-changer.
But will U.S. cabbies embrace a compact front-drive van, assembled in Turkey, as the spiritual successor to the big Crown Victoria sedan?
"That is what we are assessing right now," says Gerry Koss, Ford's fleet marketing manager. Koss says Ford has begun talking with cab fleets to determine "how we can develop a product that meets their requirements."
Annual U.S. taxicab volume is small -- in the neighborhood of 6,000 units. But it's a segment that Ford has dominated since the late 1970s.
The five-seat 2010 Transit Connect goes on sale this summer, targeted at fleets and small-business owners. No timetable has been given for a decision on a windowed, taxi version.
From the van's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, Ford promises 22 mpg city and 25 highway. That's a major improvement over the "12, 13 miles per gallon beast" of today's Crown Victoria, says Jeff Feldman, president of Taxi Medallion Management. The Chicago company manages 753 cabs under the Yellow, Checker and Blue Diamond taxi brands -- mostly Crown Vics. The drivers lease cabs from the company and pay for their gasoline.
Is Feldman interested?
"If the pricing is proper, if mpg is good," he says. "We are using a lot of Ford product, and we would like to continue using Ford product. But we have to see it first."
(Source: Automotive News)