End-user demand has influenced operator buying patterns, increasing the popularity of SUV-based limousines and corporate, 70-inch to 85-inch stretches, according to Royale Limousine Manufacturers President Cabot Smith. But sedan-based limousines will continue to dominate the market due to their performance and handling, he notes.
“An increase in business travel has ignited sales of shorter stretches and an improved economy means people are out on the town again, often in a new SUV limousine,” says Smith, whose company is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2004. “But the real work-horse is the 120-inch Town Car.”
Shorter limousines do not provide the desired seating capacity and flexibility for operators. Although SUV limousines appeal to prom and wedding customers, long-term buying patterns will not be dramatically affected because the vehicles ride more harshly than sedan-based limousines, Smith notes.
“To make the most of a limousine, it must be able to accommodate a wide range of clients,” he adds.
One of the most flexible vehicles an operator can buy is a five-door 120-inch limousine, according to Smith, which is why he expanded and revamped his five-door product line this winter.
The coachbuilder moved the fifth door to the center of the vehicle and reduced the size of the door, allowing for easier curbside access on J-seat and three-seat models.
“The door is much lighter and more manageable,” Smith says. “It also makes more sense to have it centrally located because it allows for easier access.”
Smith hopes his new five-door models will appeal to corporations that are cutting spending by implementing shared ride programs. With added shops for picking up more passengers, corporate clients will enjoy the convenience of the additional door, Smith says.
Another improvement to Royale’s product line includes innovations to the company’s Touch Control electrical system. Royale is unveiling a new central control system in all of its vehicles, powered by a controller area network of microcontrollers that connects devices, sensors and actuators for real-time applications.
Lighting, stereo components, dividers and TVs are controlled by a single wire pair that is lightweight, improves reliability and is easier to maintain. The network is equipped with an array of sensors that monitor the limousine’s amenities and keeps them running efficiently and properly.