HYBRID TAXI NATIONAL TOUR KICKS OFF IN CHICAGOBy Kristopher Spencer, FCN
DEARBORN, June 8, 2006 -- San Francisco taxi driver Paul Gillespie anticipates a recurring question when he picks up fares in his Ford Escape Hybrid taxi: How's the fuel economy? Gillespie is happy to report he's saving approximately $30 per 12-hour shift or more than $6,000 a year.
"Customers are always surprised when I slow down for a light and the gas engine shuts off," said Gillespie, who drove the first Escape Hybrid taxi. "The electric engine is so quiet they think the cab has stalled out, so I try to explain hybrid technology to them." Hybrids are perfect for cabdrivers or anyone who does stop-and-go city driving, he added.
City officials hope to make Chicago the "greenest" city in the country by 2007. The effort includes requiring commercial fleets of 50 vehicles or more to include at least one hybrid.
"Cities across the country are turning to hybrid-electric vehicles to help meet their clean-air targets,” says Mark Kaufman, Ford SUV marketing manager. “We feel what makes the Escape Hybrid the best hybrid vehicle for taxi use is also what makes it the best hybrid for consumers: It offers an unmatched combination of fuel economy, uncompromised passenger and cargo utility, solid reliability and affordability.” San Francisco and New York City already have hybrid taxi fleets.
At Chicago's Museum for Science and Industry, Ford will present the city with a one-year loan of an Escape Hybrid taxi for evaluation.
Chicago recently passed an ordinance adding hybrids to the city's taxi fleet by June 2007. The mandate is part of Mayor Richard M. Daley's initiative to make Chicago the "greenest" city in America.
Its fuel economy in stop-and-go city driving also is 80 percent higher than a conventional Escape. The two-wheel-drive version of the hybrid SUV achieves 36 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 500 miles or more on a single tank of gas -- even in gridlock traffic jams.
"It's nice to have an SUV that does so well environmentally and saves me about $5,000 a year," said Allen Gotschberg, another San Francisco cabbie. Gotschberg has driven more than 100,000 miles in his Escape Hybrid taxi.
The Escape Hybrid is well-suited for city driving, because the gas engine shuts off at 25 miles per hour or less and the battery mode takes over. A regenerative braking system recharges the battery each time the brakes are applied.
"The success of Escape Hybrid taxis illustrates the real-world benefits of the Escape Hybrid," says Kaufman. "It delivers ultra-clean emissions for the city, it is saving taxi drivers up to $30 per day on gas, and it showcases the durability of the Ford Escape Hybrid – with some taxis accumulating more than 120,000 miles without any major mechanical problems."