California’s first compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered Ford Transit Connect Taxis have gone into service in the greater Los Angeles area. California Yellow Cab of Orange County put its first 10 Transit Connect Taxis into service – marked by an event celebrating the increased presence of CNG use in California. Clean Energy, which owns and operates CNG filling stations, also participated in the event. The first 10 Transit Connect Taxis are part of an order for 50 units that California Yellow Cab plans to put into service by 2012.
In addition, Yellow Cab of Anaheim also ordered 69 units, bringing the total number of CNG Transit Connect Taxis that will soon be servicing Southern California to more than 100.
Tim Conlon, president and general manager of California Yellow Cab, said there is a lot of excitement over the new taxis. “Our goal is to convert our entire fleet to alternative fuels, so bringing the CNG Transit Connect Taxis into service is an exciting step in that direction,” said Conlon. “The drivers are excited too. They have been lining up to be among the first to get behind the wheel of a CNG-powered taxi.”
The estimated fuel economy of a CNG-powered Transit Connect Taxi is the same as the standard gasoline version. However, operating costs are lower because the cost of a gasoline gallon equivalent of CNG is roughly half the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline.
“Taxicab operators will save up to $2 per gallon over gasoline at the pump,” said Mitchell Pratt, chief operating officer, Clean Energy. “Because the vehicles’ tailpipe emissions are near zero, Ford’s CNG Transit Connects qualify to drive in California’s carpool lanes and, compared to petroleum versions, will reduce greenhouse gases by almost 30 percent.”
Earlier this year in the Golden State, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the use of CNG-powered Transit Connect Taxis modified by Dallas-based BAF Technologies, which is owned by Clean Energy. BAF is also a Ford QVM.
In addition to the CARB approval, Conlon said another factor that is pro-CNG is the increase in infrastructure supporting CNG-fueled vehicles. He said that since 2001 the number of CNG filling stations in Orange County has tripled to about 30.
“We have a situation here in Orange County where the per gallon equivalent of CNG is almost $2 less than the price of a gallon of traditional fuel. Given that, along with the increased infrastructure support, it’s not hard to see why it makes sense for us to go with the [CNG-powered] Transit Connect Taxi,” said Conlon.
(This article compiled using information from a Ford Motor Company press release)