Hybrid vehicles, by design, return the best fuel economy and produce the lowest emissions when they are driven in a city environment. Naturally, this makes them ideal for use as taxi cabs in heavily congested urban areas where vehicles are trapped in never-ending gridlock. The majority of cabs used in this country, however, are traditional American sedan gas hogs.
That will change dramatically in the next five years in one of our nation's biggest cities: New York. Mayor Bloomberg recently announced a plan to convert the city's entire fleet of 13,000 taxis to hybrid vehicles by 2012. This change will greatly assist in the mayor's plan to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2030. As of mid-2007, hybrids comprise only 375 of the 13,000 vehicles used as taxis in New York. And of those 375 hybrids, the majority is the Ford Escape Hybrid.
The Escape Hybrid was the first hybrid to be used in taxi fleets across the country. The bulk of Escape Hybrids are serving in New York, and they have been holding up remarkably well, given the extremely harsh conditions faced day in and day out. Ford reports that the first batch of vehicles have accumulated around 175,000 miles (since late 2005!) and have had no major mechanical problems. City EPA estimated mileage for the Escape Hybrid is 34 mpg, compared with 14 mpg for the Crown Victoria. We expect the Escape to be chosen as the most popular model in the fleet.
Whichever model prevails, the savings in fuel costs alone will be significant - regardless of the environmental advantages - when the fleet runs entirely on hybrid power.