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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The International LCT Show this year felt more like old times: Less anxiety, more optimism.
The slowly improving economy helps. As of this writing, U.S. factory output exceeds that of other nations amid more business activity and global trade. Housing starts and home prices are up, consumers are more confident, and the stock market hit a record high March 5. The private sector appears to be pulling hard despite the drag from the public sector and high unemployment. The business world proves anew its ability to create and innovate.
That was apparent in the innovation that abounded with emerging new vehicle choices on the Show floor. I thought I had seen it all last year in vehicle variety. This year, I saw even more. We are experiencing a vehicle market in the limousine industry like none before: Splintered, diverse, quick, competitive and suspenseful.
We focus on vehicles often in LCT coverage because I know that’s what most operators care about. Our metrics, or “ratings,” on our LCTmag.com website show that vehicle-related articles get the most page views. We watch every article in real time and know exactly which ones you are clicking into the most from minute to minute.
It’s impossible to do so many vehicles justice in the confined space of one magazine issue, but the fact the Show floor drew 14 types of Sprinter vans alone gives you an idea of the variety out there. Factor in the new Lincoln MKS sedan, just added to the leading livery vehicle maker’s line-up, debuts of multiple XTS-L extended sedan models, multiple Chrysler 300-L extended versions, a Toyota Avalon Hybrid, a new line of high-end buses from Grech Motors, the latest MKT stretch models from Executive Coach Builders. . . so many to keep up with and I hope we’ll get to them all.
Such a vehicle market leads me to one certainty, one prediction, and many questions.
Certainty: We are seeing a full-blown competitive horse race for chauffeured vehicle market share among Detroit’s Big 3: Ford/Lincoln, GM/Cadillac, and Chrysler. That has never happened in the limousine vehicle market.
Prediction: The increased quality, better amenities, and wider choices of chauffeured vehicles will lead to a “Golden Age” of purchasing in the industry market, as one size or style no longer fits all.
Now, I’ll throw out these questions, not just from curiosity, but as indicators for the corporate/business travel chauffeured vehicle market in the years ahead: