The Ford Mustang Mach-E is hitting the streets of New York City as the latest electric vehicle to join the ranks of the city’s iconic yellow taxi fleet.
The Mustang Mach-E, with its fresh coat of Rally Yellow paint and classic taxi iconography, is being operated by Gravity, a startup focused on EV fleets and charging infrastructure. This is the first time that Ford’s new, mass-market EV is being deployed as a taxi. But it won’t be the last — Gravity says it hopes to eventually operate a fleet of 50 electric vehicles comprised of both Mustang Mach-Es and Tesla Model Ys.
“I think the Mustang and the Model Y are kind of like the ideal taxi vehicles that are available today,” Moshe Cohen, founder and CEO of Gravity, told The Verge.
Gravity isn’t the first company to deploy EVs as taxis. Back in 2019, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved the Tesla Model 3 as the first EV eligible to become a yellow taxi. A year later, the first Model 3 was spotted in the city. (The Verge alum Sam Sheffer took a ride late last year.) And earlier this year, moped sharing company Revel announced a plan to launch 50 Tesla Model Ys as a for-hire vehicle fleet in Manhattan — though the city later blocked that plan. (The company eventually won approval.)
Gravity is going a different route by integrating its vehicles into the city’s regulated fleet of yellow cabs. The vehicles are authorized for use as taxis under an EV pilot program adopted by the TLC earlier this year. But to do so, Gravity will need to lease a taxi medallion, which is a permit issued by the city to allow people to own and operate cabs. The company is certified as a taxi agent, meaning it’s authorized to lease medallions. The Mustang Mach-E has gone through TLC approvals and inspections, but Cohen said there will likely be additional features to roll out that will require future approval.
Cohen said that Gravity has installed an “artificial intelligence camera” that tracks the driver’s face to prevent distraction. The company is also tracking the vehicle’s speed and other driving maneuvers to ensure drivers are operating safely.
EV charging infrastructure can be hard to find in New York City, but Gravity operates its own charging station out of a parking garage in Midtown Manhattan. The company plans on installing more chargers in the future, Cohen said, including fast-chargers capable of speeds of up to 350 kW.
In the US, more taxi operators are integrating EVs into their fleet, encouraged by the cost savings and marketing potential. Rental car companies are also getting in on the action, with Hertz recently placing a 100,000-car order with Tesla. (The news of the order sent shares in both companies soaring, pushing Tesla’s valuation over $1 trillion for the first time.)