Coachbuilder Roundup - Marks of Distinction

Posted on November 1, 2003 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

There’s no question that the limousine industry is favored with an impressively inventive group of coachbuilders. Few other industries can boast of manufacturers that can consistently design and build such an impressive array of aesthetic, mechanical and technological innovations.

The question then arises: to what degree are operators planning to invest in these cutting-edge products?

A recent survey conducted by LCT reveals that considerable numbers of them will be adding these vehicles to their fleets in the coming months.

Slightly less than half of the 202 operators surveyed by phone by LCT in September said they were planning to buy at least one limousine before March.

Most of those with buying plans were small operators, consistent with an industry that is dominated by small companies. Operators throughout the U.S. were surveyed.

Eight- to 10- passenger models are the most popular for those with buying plans: 59% said they were planning to buy at least one limo of that size, with 35% saying they expect to buy at least one four- to six-passenger model and 20% saying they expect to buy at least one 12-plus passenger model. Total exceeds 100% because of multiple responses by the same operator.

In addition, 34.6% of those who said they were planning to buy a limo also said they were planning to buy at least one SUV.

Operators planning to buy before March said they expect to purchase an average of about 1.5 vehicles. While most said they expect to buy one or two vehicles, a number of those surveyed said they expect to buy as many as three or four vehicles.

When asked for the reasons driving their plans to buy at least one limousine, nearly two-thirds said their business was growing or that they were confident that it would grow in the coming months.

“Business is up; we’re having a pretty good year,” Troy Farmer, president of Presidential Limousine in Portland, Ore., said in an interview with LCT. “We’re turning down too much work and I’m getting tired of giving it to the competition,” he added. His company now has seven vehicles and intends to grow it by one in the coming months. About one-third of respondents cited the need to update their fleets as the primary reason behind their buying plans.

“You have to do everything that you can to keep up with the competition,” said Loretta Gerken, owner of Loretta’s Limited Limousines in Defiance, Ohio, a five-vehicle operation. “Business is good – you’d never know there was a recession as far as we’re concerned – but you have to stay on your toes if you want a piece of it. People are looking for any edge and you’ve got to keep up with the cars.”

The average current fleet size of operators planning to buy a limousine was six vehicles, ranging from those with one vehicle in their fleet up to one operator with 64 vehicles.

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