Cabbies, rejoice: Ford has a replacement for your aging Crown Victorias, although it may not look anything like the bulbous body-on-frame sedan you've come to adore.
After teasing us with several concepts, Ford officially announced today it will offer a version of its Transit Connect compact van designed specifically to cater to livery fleets.
"Transit Connect already has proven that it offers tremendous versatility for commercial fleet use," said Gerry Koss, Ford's fleet marketing manager. "The Transit Connect Taxi further demonstrates its flexibility."
Opting for the taxi package triggers several small changes to the Transit Connect. For starters, all the seats are trimmed in grey vinyl, while the rear seat is moved back three inches to increase legroom. Ford trims the floors in black rubber (ugly, but it's easy enough to hose down), and adds side windows (those flanking the passenger seat slide open for fresh air).
Individual fleets are left to install taxi-specific equipment like fareboxes, partitions, and roof signs, although Ford does provide a handy-dandy custom wiring harness for the latter.
For cities that mandate eco-friendly alternative fuel taxi cabs, Ford also announced that any Transit Connect -- taxi or panel van -- can now be equipped with an optional package that readies the stock 2.0-liter I-4 for compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane fuels. If performed properly by a certified upfitter, the conversion won't void Ford's stock warranty, and will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30-40 percent.