New York, NY (November 10, 2005) — The greening of the iconic New York yellow taxi officially begins at 11 a.m. on Thursday as New Yorkers meet the first mini-fleet of hybrid taxicabs — six Ford Escape Hybrids. Ford was the first American auto manufacturer to introduce a hybrid vehicle.
The historic occasion was marked by a ceremony in New York, where officials from government, advocacy groups and industry gathered to send off the hybrid taxis in midtown Manhattan.
“I want to congratulate everyone involved for putting this innovative hybrid technology on the streets of New York City,” says Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford.
Since 1907, only gasoline-powered taxis have worked NYC streets. Thanks to the “Clean Air Taxis Act” and new TLC regulations implemented this past summer, New York’s cab drivers are now free to choose from seven gas-electric hybrid models. These hybrid taxis will help clear the air for riders, provide a big gas-savings lifeline for their drivers and lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil.
“New York City is now the first major city to deploy hybrid cabs on a regular basis,” said Jack Hidary, Chair of the Coalition Advocating for Smart Transportation, the alliance of health, civic and environmental organizations that led the way on this effort. “Hybrid engines reduce air pollution, fuel consumption, and driver expenses. Everybody wins with these cabs and New York leads the way towards energy independence.”
Hybrid vehicles pollute far less and could achieve twice the city gas mileage of the current standard New York cab. The two-wheel-drive version of the Escape Hybrid achieves 36 miles per gallon in city driving, close to 500 miles per tank of gas, allowing cabbies to go an entire shift without taking time to fill up.
The change in city policy was prompted by growing public concern over New York’s air quality – ranked as the third worst among the country’s cities in 2004.
Seven out of 10 New Yorkers in a poll conducted by CAST last summer said New York taxis should be converted to hybrids sooner than later.
“Ford is working on innovative solutions to customer concerns over high gas prices and America’s overdependence on foreign oil. New Yorkers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of innovative products like the Ford Escape Hybrid,” says Bill Ford. Ford recently announced plans to produce up to 250,000 hybrids a year by 2010.
“We are excited about the progress these vehicles represent,” said New York City Taxi Commissioner Matthew W. Daus. “New York City has always been a pioneer when it comes to taxicabs and innovation, and today it has been proven once again.”
According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, each New York taxi averages nearly 100,000 miles of driving annually. So, the fuel savings for drivers and operators could reach the thousands of dollars every year.
That savings could enable hybrid owners to recover the premium cost of the technology within the first year on the road.
“It’s a no-brainer,” says Evgeny Friedman, the co-owner of Taxi Club Management Inc., in Brooklyn. Friedman who purchased 18 of the first 27 hybrid medallions auctioned last October by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.
New York City Council Member John C. Liu, Chairperson of the Transportation Committee, stated: “Our actions in the City Council have focused national attention on the numerous potential benefits of hybrid vehicles and have brought us to this historic unveiling. Today, we witness New York City’s first hybrid taxicab — crucial technology for our post-Katrina economy — which will help ensure a decent living for taxicab operators struggling with high fuel prices, provide cleaner air for New Yorkers, and help us contribute to a reduction in our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.”
“When I first proposed alternative-fuel cars be used as cabs three years ago, hybrids were just beginning to reach the marketplace,” New York City Council Member David Yassky said. “But now — with this new technology available and affordable, and with our law in place to allow these cars to be cabs — there is no good reason to keep hybrids out of the taxi fleet.” Yassky said allowing hybrid cabs is not only good for the environment, but also good for business.