Since 1981, the Lincoln Town Car has been the industries standard for limousine services and transportation companies worldwide. This will all change as Lincoln stopped production in 2011.
With the town car at the end of its line the limousine industry is at a crossroads.
“What vehicle will replace the town car”?
This question was a hot topic for the top 175 industry leaders at the LCT Leadership Summit this month in Miami, Florida. I was fortunate enough to be asked to host a roundtable discussion on this topic with my fellow operators. Here I was able to gauge their opinions on the upcoming changes along with a representative from the Ford Motor Company.
Over the course of the 90 minutes we had seven focus groups discuss the next generation livery vehicle. Mixed opinions and ideas were shared of how to deal with the upcoming paradigm shift of a new industry standard.
The overwhelming theme of all the sessions was a, “wait and see” attitude. This makes sense as the town car currently has the lion market share of the limousine industry and the replacement (Lincoln MKT) does not appear to be taking the direction the operators predicted.
The Lincoln MKT prototype was on display at the Summit and was viewed with mixed reviews. Operator comments are listed below:
- Operators were concerned with the size of the back seat. It appears to only seat two passengers vs. three passengers in the Town Car.
- The luggage compartment is small and open to the passenger cabin. The open luggage compartment does not allow a secure location within the vehicle for clients to store valuables and will not hold enough luggage for four passengers.
- The vehicle looks like a combination of a crossover/minivan with the high roof and rounded back end. Operators were concerned about client adoption.
- The outer edge of the rear seat was very hard and uncomfortable for passengers to sit on as they entered the vehicle.
- The operators found it positive that the amenities of the MKT far outweighed that of the Town Car.
- Higher fuel efficiency was a positive as fuel costs are one of the biggest budgetary concerns for a limousine service or transportation company.
Additional vehicles that are being tested by operators to replace the town car are the Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300, Cadillac DST with a new XTS coming out in 2012, the Lexus 460L, and the Mercedes S550, amongst others.
The general consensus is that the industry will dictate what becomes the next gold standard sedan, but many of the operators will wait and see before jumping on the bandwagon of the MKT by purchasing high end vehicles that will increase rates to clients. The industry standard may take 2-3 years to develop with new entries into the livery segment. The Town Car is a proven workhorse, so my recommendation would be to stock up on the remaining town cars before it is too late. We did.
What vehicle would you like to see replace the town car?Tags: Airport Limousine Service, Corporate Travel, limousine, limousine industry