What’s wrong with current cabs?
Bill Plumb: Ninety-five percent of them are Ford Crown Victoria sedans. The Crown Vic is not designed as a taxi—it’s a real road hog. You don’t need that heavy V-8 engine; it uses too much fuel. And the car is very inefficient in terms of passenger space. There’s not enough headroom, and it’s too difficult to get out.
What would be better?
Minivans are big enough to carry people comfortably, and small enough not to intrude on traffic so much. They’ve got more headroom, more legroom, and you can put a partition behind the front seat. I think they would encourage people to share more cabs, because you can move around inside much more easily.
But there are minivan taxis on the road now—why haven’t they caught on?
Virtually every part in the Crown Vic can be removed and replaced relatively quickly, so fleet owners can constantly rotate the components. Front-wheel-drive vehicles like the Odyssey minivan, while more efficient, have more complex parts that tend to fail and are expensive to replace. It’s all about the money.