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The Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles team at the Show: Craig Hall, fleet marketing manager for Commercial Vehicle Sales & Marketing; Ford/Lincoln marketer Kim Johnston; marketer Andrew Shoushanian of Versacom Inc., QVM program coordinator Jeffrey Metz, and Chris Keady, modified vehicle manager of fleet service operations.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A Ford Transit commercial van took center stage during the Show in ways few would have expected.
The Transit, converted by Battisti Customs Inc., was built on spec for Chicago operator George Jacobs, who bought the unique conversion as part of a $1.4 million purchase of mini-buses and vans during the three-day Show. Vehicle designer and converter William “Bill” Battisti upfitted the luxurious interior exclusively for Jacobs and the Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles exhibit, which also included the 2015 Lincoln MKT Town Car, Lincoln MKS sedan and the Lincoln Navigator SUV.
The four vehicle models, along with stretch Lincoln MKTs modified by QVM coachbuilders, demonstrate the OEM’s push in recent years to revamp its fleet line-up to include the primary chauffeured vehicle segments: Sedans, SUVs, crossovers, stretch limousines and vans.
Transit Marks A Big Transition
The Ford Transit G2 Limo, designed by Battisti Customs Inc., features many high-end onboard amenities that create a luxury experience for retail runs as well as corporate outings. George Jacobs, owner of Chicago-based Windy City Limousine, bought this Ford Transit luxury van modified by Battisti Customs Inc.
The Transit served as an exhibit flagship for Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles
, which entered the upscale chauffeured van market during the last year.
“I think it’s beautiful, a very nice, attractive product,” said Jacobs, founder and owner of Windy City Limousine
, which operates 240 chauffeured vehicles and motorcoaches. “We’re already taking orders for it. I think it will sell out.”
The 13-passenger Transit features all-perimeter seating in limo-bus style, with standing height and ease of getting in and out, said Battisti, owner of Battisti Customs Inc. of Elkhart, Ind., which focuses on upscale luxury conversions of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters and Ford Transits.
“Ford asked us to build a limo van and take to both shows. In the midst of building it, George was interested in it. We built this one to his specs. It was good for him and for us. It’s versatile on the inside and ideal for wine tours, ball games, weddings, proms and nights out.”
Other amenities of the Windy City model include a full bar with a cooler for flute glasses and drinks, 32-in. digital TVs front and back, and an interior style based on Battisti’s Generation 2 Sprinter limo-style.
“It’s very favorably priced compared to what was previously out there,” Jacobs said. “They configured it nicely. The look, the feel, the price point and the functionality was just right.”
The Ford Transit ups the competitive ante in the chauffeured market as it competes head-to-head with the Sprinter, while the redesigned 2015 Lincoln Navigator introduces a new generation luxury SUV into the industry. The MKS and MKT provide a two-pronged competitive option for industry sedans.