Mayor Michael Bloomberg is setting new standards for taxis in New York that call fro very strict emissions and mileage standards by next year. By October of 2005, 1,000 taxis will be required to be hybrid. After 5 years, the whole taxi fleet of 13,000 vehicles will be hybrid.
In October 2008, taxis will be required to achieve a minimum of 25 miles per gallon (which means the Crown Vic is out). A year later, all new vehicles must get 30 miles per gallon and be hybrid
New York has been a testbed for hybrid taxis for the past couple of years. There are currently 375 hybrid taxis on the road in New York today.
Ford reported that the 18 Escape Hybrids used as taxis that were part of the original test fleet passed the 175,000 mile mark back in April. Back in June of 2006, over 250 medallions were put up for sale for taxis that were also hybrids.
According to all the reports I've seen, hybrid taxis have been doing well in NY, San Francisco and elsewhere. The drivers like spending so much less on gas each day, while the fleet owners appreciate spending less on brakes and oil changes. Local politicians like to talk about the green aspects such as low emissions.
"There's an awful lot of taxicabs on the streets of New York City," Bloomberg said. "These cars just sit there in traffic sometimes, belching fumes.
"This does a lot less. It's a lot better for all of us," he said of the hybrid plan.
Update: Ford released a press release following the announcement by the Mayor on things they would like you to know about the Ford Escape Hybrid Taxis
Ford Escape Hybrid Taxi Facts
-- Most fuel-Efficient SUV on Earth: EPA rated at 34 miles per gallon in
city driving, the front-wheel drive Escape Hybrid is the most fuel-
efficient SUV on earth, and can provide drivers 500 miles to a tank.
-- Taxi Drivers Save $30 Per Shift: According to San Francisco cab driver
Paul Gillespie, driving an Escape Hybrid saves him up to $30 per shift.
Working four shifts a week for a year could equal more than $6,000.
-- Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) Certified: The Escape Hybrid
dramatically reduces smog-forming emissions, as it meets the cleanest
emissions standard available for a vehicle that uses fossil fuels --
California's AT-PZEV standard. Over 100,000 miles the Escape Hybrid
will conserve approximately 1,666 gallons of gas over a traditional
cab, effectively preventing 32,000 pounds of carbon emissions.
-- Reliability and Durability is Key for Taxi Use: The Escape Hybrid is
proving to be remarkably durable, capable of surviving around-the-clock
use in one of the most severe driving conditions any vehicle will face.
This durability is backed by a standard 8-year / 100,000-mile limited
warranty for unique hybrid components, including the battery pack.
-- Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner Hybrid Have Highest Tax Credits: Because
the real world fuel economy of the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner
Hybrids increased for the 2008 model year, the Federal income tax
credits available now are $3,000 for FWD models (up $400) and $2,200 on
4WD models (up $250). The Ford and Mercury Hybrids now have the
highest tax credit of any hybrid -- up to $900 more than the closest
competitor. For both vehicles, the new EPA-certified fuel economy for
FWD models is 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, and 29 mpg city and 27
mpg highway for AWD models.
-- Insurance Discounts for Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner Hybrids:
Travelers, one of the largest providers of personal insurance products
in the United States, offers hybrid drivers in the states of
California, New Jersey, Texas, New York, Maryland, Florida, Kentucky,
Georgia and Washington discounts of up to 10 percent on certain
coverages. The company estimates their hybrid policy business grew by
200 percent in 2006.