LOTS OF LEGROOM: Boston Operator Opens The Road With Hybrid Sedan

Posted on September 23, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

BOSTON — Dawson Rutter, one of the leading operators in the chauffeured transportation industry, has made arrangements to eventually buy up to 20 Ford Hybrid L Fusions for his 180-vehicle fleet.

The green vehicle made by Royale Limousine Manufacturers sets a new industry precedent because it consists of a full-sized Ford sedan stretched six inches with a hybrid engine that gets upward of 40 mpg. The Hybrid L Fusion breaks new ground in the chauffeured green vehicle market because it achieves high gas mileage without sacrificing comfort and legroom. Two executives can ride comfortably in the back seat to the airport with room for their luggage.

“It’s a full size car on the inside,” said Rutter, owner and CEO of Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, with headquarters in Boston and operations in New York City. “It’s almost the same size on the inside as the Town Car. There is no sacrifice by the customer to using the Fusion.”

Commonwealth has one Fusion — the prototype — now on the road with another expected to be delivered this week. Rutter has a deposit on the first 10 Fusions and an option to buy 10 more from Royale, based in Haverhill, Mass. The Ford Fusion is in limited supply because it was one of the most popular vehicles sold under the federal Cash For Clunkers program this summer, he said. So Royale is waiting to get more Fusions from Ford before it can fulfill the order.

The vehicle costs about $42,000 — slightly more than the 2010 Lincoln Town Car Executive L, which depending on rebates and individual dealers, ranges around $40,000 per vehicle.

Steve Edelmann, sales manager at Royale, could not be reached for further comment on production details of the Hybrid L Fusion before the LCT E-News deadline today. Royale plans to display its Fusion for the first time on a trade show floor at the LCT Eastern Conference on Oct. 7-8 at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, Conn., halfway between Boston and New York.

Commonwealth chauffeurs so far have averaged about 37-40 mpg on the Hybrid L Fusion, using what Rutter calls “a heavy foot.” Rutter this week drove the prototype from his house to his office for 45 minutes, averaging 46 mpg for the 21-mile commute.

The mileage savings will more than cover any price differential with the Town Car while boosting Commonwealth’s emissions savings with Green Ride Global, a Toronto-based green consultant that contracts with chauffeured transportation companies to help them reduce and track carbon emissions.

For Commonwealth customers using the Hybrid L Fusion, the $62 hourly rate remains the same as for a Town Car. But Rutter plans to cut his fuel surcharge for the Hybrid L Fusion in half — from 8% to 4%.

What’s more, the addition of the Fusions to his fleet liberates Rutter from using the compact Toyota Prius as a green livery vehicle. He plans to “absolutely” retire the two he has in his fleet.

“There is a huge sacrifice now to using a Prius,” Rutter said. “There is little or none to using this Fusion. One customer told me, ‘Throw the Prius to the curb. We love this car. We would only ride in the Prius because it’s green.’”

While Commonwealth hasn’t officially started marketing the Fusion yet during this customer test period, Rutter anticipates it will be a big hit among his corporate clients heading to Boston’s Logan International Airport, especially those clients that work for companies with green sustainability programs.

Rutter said Commonwealth ended up as the first operator in America with the Hybrid L Fusion because he was among the first to see the prototype when Royale showed it to Boston area businesses. “I immediately bought 10 of them and ordered 10 more.”

Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine

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