NEW YORK, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Like many concerned parents, New York City taxi driver Silvio Martinez wants clean air for his children, and he's doing something about it. Martinez today accepted the keys to a new Ford (NYSE: F) Crown Victoria natural gas-powered taxi cab at Universal Ford in Long Island City, New York, becoming one of the first cab drivers to purchase a natural gas version of the popular sedan. The car is the first factory-built alternative fuel vehicle to be used in New York's taxi fleet. "I see buying my natural gas Crown Victoria as the way I can personally make a difference," says Martinez. "The fuel is less expensive, the performance is great and it will be an important step in cleaning up the air for my children and my grandchildren." In fact, if the city's 11,700 medallion cabs were operated on natural gas, 2600 tons of pollution annually would be eliminated from New York City's air. The taxicab sedan is based on Ford's NGV Crown Victoria and is the cleanest internal combustion car on the road today meeting stringent federal and California emissions standards. "This means significantly lower levels of carbon monoxide, reactive carbons and nitrogen oxide are emitted from the vehicle," said John Wallace, director of Ford's Alternative Fuel Vehicle Programs. "The natural gas taxicab is another example of Ford's ongoing commitment to develop alternative fuel vehicles that are of the highest quality, meet customer needs and make significant contributions to the environment," said Wallace. "New York cabbies have been asking that an alternative fuel vehicle give them the ability to drive a full shift without having to refuel -- this taxicab delivers that range." Through a variety of monetary incentives, the State of New York, Ford and Brooklyn Union are encouraging taxi drivers to purchase natural gas vehicles. Under new laws in the city, cab drivers are all required to buy a new vehicle between now and April 2000. A natural gas vehicle will be allowed to remain in use for two years longer than a gasoline-powered taxicab. Brooklyn Union will supply a free month of fuel for each natural gas taxicab purchased. Support for the project is also being offered by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Gas Research Institute. Additional support has come from New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission, Department of Transportation and the Mayor's Office of Transportation and the Texas General Land Office. Brooklyn Union is opening a new natural gas fueling station at John F. Kennedy Airport to help support the need for increased fuel infrastructure in the city. Two more stations will be added in the near future. The company also maintains 13 other refueling stations in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and has been a leader in promoting the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel for almost two decades. Today, Brooklyn Union dispenses 1.9 million equivalent gallons of natural gas annually. The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized Brooklyn Union for having one of the leading alternative fuel fleets in the nation. The NGV Crown Victoria is one vehicle in a lineup of Ford natural gas products that also includes a dedicated natural gas F-250 pickup truck and Econoline van and bi-fuel Ford Contour sedan, F-Series pickup and Econoline van. Ford offers the industry's broadest range of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and last year sold more than 90 percent of all AFVs in the United States.
SOURCE Ford Motor Company