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Ford Escape Hybrid
Hybrid fever strikes New York City

Given the stop and go nature of traffic in New York City, the promise of increased fuel efficiency from hybrids is too good to pass up. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday on the "Today" show that every yellow cab will be a hybrid by the year 2012.

There are roughly 13,000 taxis roaming city streets (90 percent of which are gas guzzling Ford Crown Victorias). According to Bloomberg, 20 percent of the existing yellow cab fleet will be replaced each year until all are running on hybrid power. Currently, there are only 375 hybrid taxis on the road in NYC.

"There's an awful lot of taxicabs on the streets of New York City obviously, so it makes a real big difference," said Bloomberg. "These cars just sit there in traffic sometimes, belching fumes; this does a lot less. It's a lot better for all of us."

There are currently eight vehicles on the city's "approved" list when it comes to hybrid vehicles to be used as yellow cabs: the Ford Escape Hybrid; the Honda Accord Hybrid and Civic Hybrid; the Lexus RX400h; the Saturn Vue Green Line; and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Camry Hybrid and Prius. As more manufacturers roll out fuel efficient hybrids, the number of possible candidates is sure to increase. Vehicles like the Saturn Aura Green Line and rumored Ford Fusion hybrid are likely to join the list.

Ford Crown Victorias are rated at 15 MPG in city driving. A Ford Escape Hybrid, however, is rated at 31 MPG in the city according to the new 2008 EPA estimates. Hybrids like the Camry and Prius are even more fuel efficient at 33 MPG and 48 MPG respectively.

The Ford Escape Hybrid has already seen extensive use in San Francisco. Taxi operators reported on their vehicles once the 100,000 mile mark was surpassed. According to the operators, fuel savings compared to the Crown Victoria were between $20 to $31 per shift. Air conditioning costs were also roughly half that of Crown Victorias. Another plus was that the brakes lasted twice as long due to the hybrid system's regenerative braking feature taking a load off the traditional braking system. Most importantly, there were no complaints of poor rear legroom from passengers.

Yahoo Inc. has already committed to donate 10 Ford Escape Hybrid taxis according to Bloomberg.

When all is said and done, the switch to a completely hybrid yellow cab fleet will save each taxi operator over $10,000 USD per year in fuel costs while also cutting total carbon emissions by 200,000 tons per year.

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RE: Probably not a bad move
By TheCurve314 on 5/24/2007 1:32:40 AM , Rating: 3
A non hybrid with the same size engine would get the same mileage, maybe better since it wouldn't have the extra weight of the hybrid system.

Don't you think the low drag coefficient of his Prius would have an impact, especially at higher speeds like in the situation he describes?

When you say "size," I assume you mean engine displacement. Consider the Toyota Yaris, Scion xA, and Scion xB. They all use 1.5L inline-four gasoline engines, just like the Prius. All are 2006 models. The Yaris, xA, and xB all weigh hundreds of pounds less than the Prius. According to, this is how their highway numbers are estimated:

Prius - 51 MPG; Yaris - 39 MPG; xA - 38 MPG; xB - 34 MPG

Despite similar engine displacement and lower weight, the Prius has a notable advantage over the other models. Even with the revised EPA Prius value of 45 MPG highway, this is still a fair improvement (this hasn't stopped RogueSpear from exceeding both numbers, however). In light of what you said, how can this be explained?

And both nickel cadmium (sp?) and lithium ion batteries are both insanely toxic.

As others have pointed out, Nickel-Cadmium is usually not applicable to the vehicles being discussed here. To my knowledge, GM, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Nissan are all using Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries in their hybrids. NiMH batteries are not perfect, but they are far, far less environmentally harmful to the environment than NiCd ones are. A fair portion of NiMH batteries can be recycled relatively easily. In the case of Toyota (if I remember right) they will pay you $200.00 if you send back the battery to be recycled, and they recycle every single part of the battery, no matter how small -- no landfills.

Not to mention the production facilities that build said batteries create ecological wastelands in the surrounding area from the toxic chemicals.

I'm having trouble finding evidence of this on the internet. It would be immensely appreciated if you could share your sources on this one. I found a news article that describes something similar to your claim, but it seems to have been removed because it wasn't true.

RE: Probably not a bad move
By masher2 on 5/24/2007 9:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
> "Despite similar engine displacement and lower weight, the Prius has a notable advantage over the other models"

The engines in the Prius and the other models you cite have similar displacement, but not similar output. The Scion engines have been tuned for output rather than maximal efficiency. As a result, the xB garners 108hp from its 1.5l engine, whereas the Prius only outputs 78hp.

His primary point is that hybrid technology adds nothing to highway mileage. Is that correct? Strictly speaking, it is. But in practical terms, its not quite true. A 78hp family car would be unnacceptable for most consumers. But when you couple that with another 60-70 hp from an electric motor (which excels at low-rev torque) you get a vehicle that accelerates quickly from a stop, but still gets excellent highway mpg.

RE: Probably not a bad move
By TheGreek on 5/25/2007 11:26:43 AM , Rating: 2
The Honda Accord V6 hybrid is capable of shutting off 3 cylinders under light load.

EPA Estimates for the hybrid are 28/35.

EPA Estimates for the regular V6 automatic are 20/29.

For reference the 4 cylinder auto is 24/34.

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