Speaking to a room packed with automotive journalists and industry executives, Jim Lentz, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, explained that the auto industry is gaining momentum because of economic factors.
He cited the growth of the economy (U.S. GDP grew 2.7% in Q3 2012) as a good sign of the industry's ability to sustain growth. He forecasted that 2012 could see a total of 14.3 million new vehicles sold, “or possibly a little higher,” and that sales will reach 16 million over the next few years, especially as younger buyers return to the market.
“Unemployment dropped to a three-and-a-half year low, consumer confidence jumped to a five-year high, and the housing market seems to be turning the corner,” Lentz said. “There are a lot of positives helping drive optimism and sales, and all the automakers are showing revitalized momentum.”
As the auto industry regains its strength, it also regains its ability to invest more in research and development. “We will see new types of mobility...cleaner, more efficient vehicles, and safer cars,” Lentz said.
So what does this mean for the limousine industry? Well, as we can see from vehicle-buying trends of this past year, it means more options. All manufacturers are putting their best foot forward with advancements in efficient powertrains, improved safety features, stylish exterior designs, valuable interior amenities and clever technological integrations.
As the economy and industry grow, manufacturers should continue to churn out updated and upgraded iterations of their limousine-ready vehicles that will meet and exceed the needs of both chauffeur and passenger. When I say “limousine-ready,” I don't necessarily mean “ready to be stretched,” but rather, “ready for use as a chauffeured vehicle.”
(Click here for LCT Magazine publisher Sara Eastwood-McLean's call to reclaim the cachet and elegance of the word "limousine").
Vehicle and fleet diversity will remain a reality so long as manufacturers stay competitive, insightful and passionate about making vehicles that are more than just tools to get someone from point A to point B. That is wonderful for the limousine industry because, after all, limousine service exists to provide an experience much more than just getting from point A to point B.
— Michael Campos, LCT associate editor
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