NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Nissan may make the official taxi cab of New York City, but its vans won't start to arrive for two years. Ford ( F - Get Report), however, is selling the city taxi cabs right now. About 10 Ford Transit Connect taxis are cruising the city's streets, after Ford delivered the first 200 vehicles to its New York dealers this month. Two hundred more will be delivered next month.
"Nissan is the taxi of tomorrow, but we look at Ford as the taxi of today," said Len Deluca, director, Ford Commercial Trucks, in an interview. "This is a good opportunity for exposure for the Transit Connect". The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission decided in May to award Nissan an exclusive 10-year-contract, making the NV200 van New York's "Taxi of Tomorrow." Nissan could provide all 13,000 city cabs starting in late 2013. But the commission also said that Ford Transit Connect, a losing candidate for the contract, would be added to the list of approved cab vehicles in the interim. Currently, most cabs on the streets of New York are Ford Crown Victorias, but Ford discontinued the vehicle earlier this year. It views Transit Connect, a small SUV intended for commercial use, as a replacement. Built in Turkey, the Transit Connect was the first vehicle widely distributed globally from a single plant, a symbol of CEO Alan Mulally's OneFord concept. It was introduced in the U.S. market in the summer of 2009, after being introduced in Europe in 2003. In the first eight months of 2011, Ford sold 20,496 units in the U.S.; August sales rose 35% to 2,734. The Transit Connect gets 23 miles per gallon, compared with 14 for the Crown Victoria, and costs around $25,000. Deluca said Ford "has been showcasing Transit Connect as a taxi for around 18 months -- markets like Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas have put them into service." Total orders for Transit Connect Taxis across the United States are approaching 1,000 this year, a good share for a first-year vehicle in a market that averages about 6,000 new taxi cabs annually. Ford is "dedicated to New York and wants to sell taxis there," Deluca noted. "Crown Victoria is the warhorse, and now we want to do the same with the Transit Connect. We worked hard with the city to be the right vehicle, because we want to sell taxis there." -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. >To contact the writer of this article, click here:
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