RICHMOND, VA — One medium-sized operator has found that the Toyota Camry succeeds in breaking through the perception that chauffeured transportation is just a “Town Car” type industry.
The combination of the recession and business travel backlash have prompted many clients to avoid stretch limousines and Lincoln Town Cars in favor of smaller and less noticeable chauffeured vehicles, said Randy Allen, co-owner, vice president and general manager of James Limousine in Richmond, Va.
James Limousine bought two gray 2009 Toyota Camrys (gasoline models) in March and plans to buy a third soon. James has a 19-vehicle fleet overall that includes six Town Cars, three stretch limousines (down from 6).
“There’s a backlash against chauffeured sedans,” Allen said. “There are clients who won’t get into a Town Car. It’s not about price, but about perception.”
In his experience with the Camry this year, Allen has found he can deliver the same quality of service for a lower price.
In the Richmond area, James Limousine charges an hourly/transfer rate within the metro region to Richmond International Airport for a Town Car of $72.50, while its rate for a Camry is $55.20. Clients receive a discount if reserving a vehicle online.
“The vehicle is 25% less expensive, the profit margins are good, and acquisition and operating costs are lower,” Allen said.
Size and space are not a deterrent, Allen said. About half of his Camry clients are single passengers who sit in the right rear seat with the right front seat moved all the way forward. “There’s as much legroom as you had in the Town Car,” Allen said.
However, because the Camry trunk space is smaller than that of the Town Car, the vehicle cannot carry more than two passengers with luggage, whereas a Town Car is roomy enough for three passengers and their luggage. Also, a second passenger would have to sit behind the chauffeur, and may not have as much legroom depending on the height of the chauffeur.
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Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine