Ford Motor Co. said that Boston has become the first city to authorize the use of its Transit Connect small van as a taxi.
Boston regulates which types of vehicles can be used as taxi cabs, and the vehicles must meet requirements for headroom, legroom and cargo space, Ford said. The approval means owners and operators can use the 2011 Transit Connect Taxi when it goes on sale later this year.
Ford said the Transit Connect's standard engine will improve fuel economy by an estimated 30% over many current taxis. Ford is currently the industry leader in the U.S. taxi business with the Crown Victoria sedan, which is being phased out next year, and the Ford Escape hybrid.
The automaker said it also will offer versions of the vehicles that run on compressed natural gas and liquefied propane gas, which burn cleaner than gasoline.
Ford said it has spent the last year introducing the taxi to potential customers and made several changes based on their requests, including a grab handle that helps passengers get in and out and vinyl seats for easy upkeep.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.