New York City hybrids

New York City‘s first mini-fleet of hybrid taxicabs – six Ford Escape Hybrids – took to the streets of the Big Apple this month.

The Escape Hybrid, the first hybrid manufactured by an American automaker, is now doing taxi duty in New York thanks to the Clean Air Taxis Act, passed by the New York City Council in July of this year.

Spurred by growing concerns over New York‘s air quality, the Coalition Advocating for Smart Transportation (CAST) worked for passage of the Clean Air Taxis Act.

The Act required the Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve at least one model of hybrid gas-electric vehicle for use as a New York City taxicab.

New York‘s cab drivers are free to choose from seven gas-electric hybrid models. Ford was the natural first choice of the city’s cab drivers.

Already, the Ford Crown Victoria accounts for 90% of New York taxis. To compensate for the difference in backseat legroom between the Crown Victoria and the Escape, the Hybrid taxis will not be outfitted with security partitions between the front and back seats. Instead, security cameras will be mounted inside the cabin to monitor activity.

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 enable hybrid owners to recover the premium cost of the technology within the first year on the road.

As approximately 2,000 of the New York‘s 13,000 taxicabs are due for retirement in the coming year, the City Taxi and Limousine Commission is encouraging taxicab owners to switch to hybrids. The city is offering discounted medallions, or licenses, specifically for hybrids in order to jump-start the transition to the environmentally responsible vehicles.