At the LCT Show last February, I was approached by the owner of a non-QVM/CMC coachbuilder who was upset that so many other “non-certified coachbuilders (which he believed were illegitimate) were allowed into the show when in year’s past we had stringent exhibiting requirements.” Good observation and one that I’d like to clarify with all of you.
From 1992 to 2002, LCT only allowed QVM and/or CMC coachbuilders to advertise and exhibit at our events. The reason was straightforward at the time.
There’s a little federal law on the books that states that all vehicle on our roads must be safety tested and pass Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Also by law, safety certification stickers are required to be placed on the inside of the driver’s door of any and all vehicles.
Because every single original safety test performed by the primary manufacturer is null and void once a vehicle is cut and stretched, secondary manufacturers are also legally duty-bound to re-test the vehicles — the most critical tests focus on all the vehicle stress points like the original factory tires, breaks and axles that were not designed to withstand added weight. But here’s the problem with that. It costs around $150,000 to put a vehicle through the FMVSS tests.
Thanks to Ford and Cadillac, both of these car companies conducted and paid for FMVSS tests on the Town Car, Excursion, Navigator and DeVille limousines. They in turn gave the engineering specs on all of the above to coachbuilders in their respective QVM and CMC programs. Good news for operators because you can be assured that QVM/CMC limousines meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Now, does that mean other stretched vehicles are not safe? Not necessarily. Independent builders have the legal right to self-certify their limousines and buses if they chose to shell out their own money to do so.
In 2002, Ultra Coach did just that. When they passed the FMVSS tests with their 180” stretch, they in turn sued us for the right to be in LCT magazine and show. So, with that turn of events our policies changed.
Today we do not exclude independent coachbuilders because by law they have the right to self-certify. But we do require all non-QVM/CMC manufacturers wishing to advertise or exhibit to sign a notarized affidavit that their products meet FMVSS requirements.
This brings me back to my conversation with that exhibitor who complained to me about the illegitimate coachbuilders in our show. He said that the sworn affidavits weren’t enough because vehicles that can carry more than 9-passengers are considered buses and we failed to require those companies to provide proof of DOT (again, a DOT sticker on the inside of the door panel can help to verify these vehicles are compliant).
While we do intend to tighten up our policies, you as the buyer must also be mindful that LCT is not the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Do your homework.
One more thing, the answer to my headline is, “yes.” The majority of the industry population cares about QVM/CMC. In fact, last week LCT conducted a reader study of 1,000 operators and asked them to prioritize what influenced their limousine buying decisions. The number one response was that the builder be QVM and/or CMC.