HAVERHILL, Mass. — Ford Motor Co. certified Royale’s Ford Fusion Hybrid L on Dec. 10 under its Quality Vehicle Manufacturer (QVM) program, which means the stretched hybrid sedan is being built to Ford’s quality and technical standards.
The QVM seal of approval provides a big boost to the Fusion Hybrid L since it hit the chauffeured transportation industry market in August as a category of green chauffeured vehicle all its own. The sedan is stretched six inches to provide legroom only 2.7 inches less than that a Lincoln Town Car Executive L, but gets 41 mpg, similar to the smaller Toyota Prius. It can drive up to a speed of 47 mph on battery power.
For Royale, the QVM designation caps almost a year of planning, development, and testing to bring the sedan to market, said Cabot Smith, CEO of Royale Limousine Manufacturers. He estimates the company’s investment in the exclusive Royale project exceeds $1 million and says Royale is working to recoup that investment through aggressive sales.
“Back in February, we went to Ford with the idea and said the industry needs this and it can be done within QVM guidelines,” Smith said. “They thought about it and said go ahead. We spent a lot of money developing this product to prove it can be done.”
Smith pointed out that QVM works on two levels, engineering and marketing. Royale from the beginning had informed Ford of its project and modified the sedan according to strict Ford standards and specifications. The QVM designation granted Dec. 10 is more of a promotional branding that allows Royale to market the Fusion Hybrid L under the same QVM label as the Town Car limousines, Ford/Lincoln SUV stretches, and vans that are routinely modified by coachbuilders for the livery industry based on Ford standards.
“It’s not a Town Car, but it’s a better Prius,” Smith said. “You get great fuel economy and legroom that you need for the livery business.”
The Royale Fusion Hybrid L is the first solution for operators seeking an economical and comfortable green vehicle. The Fusion Hybrid L received a major vote of confidence early on when the first operator to test it over the summer, Dawson Rutter of Boston-based Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, was so impressed he immediately ordered a fleet of them. To date, Commonwealth is operating 15 Fusion Hybrid Ls with six more on the way.
The model drew further attention at its official industry debut during the LCT Eastern Conference on Oct. 7 when it became a trade show-stealer on the exhibit floor with operators buzzing about wanting to purchase it. Other major industry operators who have bought the Fusion Hybrid L so far include Craig McCutcheon of Rosedale Livery in Toronto, George Jacobs of Windy City Limousine in Chicago, Dennis Adams of Celebrity Jet Charter and Celebrity Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Malvern, Penn., and Trevor Franklin of MTC Limousine & Corporate Coach Inc in Bedford Hills, N.Y.
Royale does not publicly disclose production figures or sales prices for the Fusion Hybrid L.
ROYALE takes orders, delivers, and services the Fusion Hybrid L through a network of Ford/Lincoln dealerships in New England, New York, Chicago, Florida, and along the West Coast. Royale has some Fusions on its lot ready for delivery and test drives but prefers that operators put in orders, Smith said.
At a Greater California Livery Association meeting Dec. 14, Barbara Papp of Star Auto Group Ford/Lincoln/Mercury in Glendale, Calif., signed up several Southern California operators interested in test driving the Fusion Hybrid L in January.
Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine