Our cover story this issue looks at the growing presence of limousines at hotels and resorts around the country. Here’s why...
Hotels and resorts are in need of reliable transportation providers since many of these facilities include limousine transportation among their guest amenities. Few market segments hold greater potential for limousine operators and, if your vehicles are suitably upscale, this may be a profitable new direction.
Second, no other business reflects the concept of service like the hospitality industry. In top level hotels and resorts, the quality of service overshadows price concern. In these times of widespread limousine price wars and cut-rate service, it is nice to be reminded that there is still a significant demand for quality service.
And, now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating limousine safety for the past 18 months, you may be wondering who builds a safe limousine. Well, the government is continuing to study information provided by coachbuilders to determine whether they comply with six of the 49 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. When NHTSA judges that one of the six areas is in compliance, that aspect of the investigation will be closed. According to NHTSA’s Zachary Fraser, no coachbuilder has yet completed all six parts of this investigation. Beyond that, there are 43 more safety Standards that may have to be reckoned with.
For the time being, though, limousine shoppers can call NHTSA’s “Hotline” (800/424-9393) to ask whether a particular coachbuilder is involved in a recall program. Fraser also comments that, if you are shopping for a safe limousine, the membership of the Limousine Industry Manufacturing. Organization (L.I.M.O) “is not a bad place to start.”
The formation of L.I.M.O. in 1989 has been one of the most important developments spurred by the NHTSA investigation. As you will read in this issue, L.I.M.O recently crash tested a 75-inch Lincoln limousine and submitted test data to NHTSA on behalf of its membership. Test data will be used by members to certify that their limousines are in compliance with FMVSS and, in the near future, a L.I.M.O, seal will designate vehicles conforming to association standards. For information about L.I.M.O., contact Beth Buzzard (703/533-9278).
Another positive development has been the inauguration of Lincoln’s Qualified Vehicle Modifier program, Currently, a number of coachbuilders are wording with Lincoln engineers to meet an extensive set of guidelines in vehicle deign and production Roy Radakovich and a team of limousine engineers personally inspect production facilities and consult with manufacturing personnel.
“One interesting result of the QVM program,” says Lincoln’s John Treter, “is that coachbuilders are learning how to build cars more efficiently… as well as with higher quality.” When a QVM program was offered to RV manufacturers a few years ago, only one out of four companies passed all requirements on the first try. Lincoln plans to announce the first successful QVM limousine builders in early fall. We’ll keep you posted.