nyc taxi
New York City approved Ford’s Transit Connect models for use among the city’s roughly 13,000-strong yellow cab fleet.

The nod came after Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration in May picked Japanese automaker Nissan over Ford for its Taxi of Tomorrow competition. Nissan had submitted a version of the NV200, a small van previously unavailable in the U.S.

The first Nissan cabs aren’t expected to hit the road until the end of 2013, but the choice was still controversial. Owners of big taxi fleets have said they don’t want to be stuck using only one model, so the city is meanwhile approving other cars that meet its interim specifications.

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on Thursday approved the Transit Connect, which is already in use in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, along with Ford’s better-known Taurus model.

“With the phase-out of the Crown Victoria, another vehicle needs to fill the gap…between now and then,” said TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg, referring to Ford’s iconic older model. “That doesn’t mean all the other cabs have to be junked” when the new standards come into effect, he added.

Ford has so far sold more than 100 Transit Connect models, which the company dubs “the Taxi of Today,” after its first shipment to Boston last December.

“For decades, Ford has been synonymous with New York City taxis, and we are pleased residents and tourists now will benefit from our next-generation vehicle,” Ford Americas President Mark Fields said.

The automaker also offers engine prep packages that allow owners to modify the cars to run on natural gas or compressed propane.

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