Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Cabbies Love the Escape Hybrid

Recommended Posts


by Bill Gray

DEARBORN, Jan. 29, 2008 -- Ford Escape Hybrid taxis have been doing service on the streets of San Francisco and New York since 2005, undergoing what is arguably the most grueling trial for a passenger vehicle. We're talking cabbies going 24/7 through potholes galore, fast starts, slammed brakes, outrageous hills and hours of idling.

Marty Smith in San Francisco and New York's Osman Chowdhury drive their Ford Escape Hybrid taxis on opposite coasts, but they share similar experiences and successes after more than two years and 100,000 miles each on some of the most challenging roads in the United States. And unlike other cabs, which are often specifically repurposed for taxi duty, the Escape Hybrids were sent directly from the factory floor.

Doubters had their questions: Would the hybrids' new nickel-metal hydride batteries survive their 100,000-mile 8-year (150,000 / 10yr in CA) warranty period with the taxis racking up that many miles in just 14 months? Would the vehicles really save all that much gas?

Now Ford has the answer: The Ford Escape Hybrids aren't just surviving, they're thriving. The vehicles are winning over cabbies and fleet owners, saving them thousands of dollars and making enthusiasts out of America's most jaded drivers. After being driven a combined 3.3 million miles, the first 33 hybrid cabs put into duty -- 18 in New York and 15 in San Francisco -- are still on the road with their original nickel-metal hydride batteries intact. Just as significantly, the cabs are also saving drivers thousands of dollars a year in gas costs.

Based on this success, even more hybrid taxis have been put to work. In New York, 550 hybrid taxis are now on duty, including 384 Escapes; in San Francisco, the fleet of 40 hybrid cabs is dominated by 30 Escapes. There are two big reasons: the hybrids are holding their own under the extreme conditions and they are saving the average driver around U.S. $5,000 a year in gas expenses. Drivers are generally responsible for buying gas, according to a New York Taxi & Limousine Commission/SmartTransportation.org study.

Green transportation advocate Jack Hidary said, "The Escape Hybrid is proving to be reliable."

One of those Ford problem solvers is Damien Tedone, section supervisor, HEV Controls Applications.

"We're pleased," he says, "especially with the battery life -- regular Escape Hybrid owners should be, too."

Their success is not only good news for hybrids, but a testament to the durability of the Escape itself.

"If you think about it, taxi drivers put more stop-and-go into one vehicle in a day than regular customers will ever do," says Gil Portalatin, Ford manager, Hybrid Applications. "And what vehicle has its doors opened and shut -- or flung open and slammed shut -- more than a taxi?"

But while cabbies enjoy the durability and the gas savings, city fathers and mothers say the environmental perks are the biggest benefits of the hybrid cabs. In fact, both mayors -- Michael Bloomberg in New York and Gavin Newsome in San Francisco -- are committed to greening taxi fleets in their cities.

"New York cabs spend a lot of time standing still with the motors running, and an idling gasoline-driven car emits 20 times more pollution than when it's going 30 miles an hour," Bloomberg told NBC's Today Show. "The hybrid, of course, turns off the gas during idling."

An all-hybrid taxi fleet would produce emissions savings equivalent to taking 25,000 cars off the road, according to SmartTransportation.org. Meanwhile, a San Francisco Taxi Commission subcommittee is working on a plan to convert cabs to hybrid or natural gas power.

"We're going to create a clean-taxi future," promises Heidi Machen, executive director, San Francisco Taxi Commission. "We're just working out details, such as a way fleet operators, as well as the drivers, can take advantage of the gas savings."

Escape Hybrid taxis also debuted in Austin, Texas, in April and in Chicago in June. Other big cab cities, such as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., may be on the hybrid taxi bandwagon soon. Ultimately, wherever people hail hybrid taxis, they're also hailing their praises.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I could see this happening a long time ago, particularly because of the nature of a hybrid...EXCELS in stop & go. Add that to a compact but very roomy and durable crossover SUV, in a trim package, and you have a winner on more than just the retail sales regard.

Also got a premonition of the durability a while back when there was an article giving an update on how the Escapes were surviving, said few have had any problems at all aside from some premature water pump failures that Ford traced back to a bad supplier or something, and all was taken care of quickly.

Though durable, coming from someone who knows (and cringes daily at it), a big, BOF, RWD, V8 car is absolute hell around town when it comes to economy, maneuverability, etc. So, GLAD, the harshest of harsh drivers have found a new, efficient and reliable choice.

Which also then makes me wonder about all the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, etc. cabs places like NYC are chalked with, and how they've been holding up too.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets



Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.