California Operator Buys Biggest BMW Limo Order To Date

California operator Bill Wheeler recently bought 30 BMW 740Li sedans, which will round out his luxury fleet that includes Grech buses and Temsa motorcoaches.
California operator Bill Wheeler recently bought 30 BMW 740Li sedans, which will round out his luxury fleet that includes Grech buses and Temsa motorcoaches.

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Three-decade operator Bill Wheeler did his research for the last few years before settling on the 2015 BMW 740Li sedan as his go-to workhorse luxury sedan.

Wheeler, owner and CEO of Black Tie Transportation Worldwide in Pleasanton, literally tested out all other luxury makes and models in his fleet that are competing for the sedan slice of the chauffeured vehicle market. But the 740Li proved to be the right balance of price, performance, amenities, and customer appreciation.

Wheeler closed an estimated $2 million deal this month with the Limousine & Hotel Shuttle Program of BMW North America to buy 30 of the premium luxury sedans. It is the largest single-order of the 740Li livery sedan to date through the official BMW program. The vehicles will be delivered in April and enter fleet service after getting state licenses. He plans to order another 10 in the months ahead.

“No customer has ever said, ‘Do not bring the BMW,” said Wheeler, whose company is based in Pleasanton, which lies in a wealthy suburban corridor in the East Bay region home to many San Francisco and Silicon Valley technology executives and workers. “The 740Li is the Lincoln Town Car for Europe, with proven reliability and dependability.”

The 740Li long wheelbase sedan matches the former Lincoln Town Car Executive L sedan in rear seat legroom and provides a smoother, quieter ride, Wheeler said. “Our clients are high end so we want to offer them a premium product.”

Black Tie’s 100-vehicle fleet handles up to about 200 runs per day, including a high volume of airport sedan trips to Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco international airports. It also provides luxury group transportation for a heavy corporate clientele with its Temsa mid-coaches and Grech Motors cutaway buses, now regarded as the top luxury bus brands in the chauffeured transportation industry.

BMW of North America has worked hard in the last two years to court the elite, premium chauffeured service market with aggressive incentives and volume discounting. So far, BMW has landed such prominent limousine company clients as Empire CLS, Boston Coach, La Costa Limousine, Alpine Limousine and LTI Worldwide.  

BMW’s limousine key account manager, Marco Schneider, traveled to Pleasanton in February to arrange the deal and ensure Black Tie gets needed maintenance and service at a local BMW dealership. What is remarkable about Wheeler’s fleet change is that he’s using the BMW 740Li to replace the Lincoln Town Car, not the Mercedes-Benz S550, which is the closest competitor to BMW in the chauffeured sedan market, Schneider said.

BMW sells the 740Li with a livery base price of $64,260 plus a destination charge of $950, and a training fee of $180, Schneider said. BMW also offers a rising scale of discount incentives based on volume, with further rebates kicking in at orders of five, 10 and 15 vehicles. The model has an MSRP of about $78,000.

Wheeler told LCT he got his BMWs for about $60,000 each. So one obvious question for a limo operator is how to ensure consistent profit margins when replacing a $40,000 Town Car with a $60,000 BMW?

Black Tie raised its rates, with a one-way transfer now averaging about $180, Wheeler replied. “Our clients are not really that price sensitive. Our customers are getting a premium price with premium service. It’s a world class vehicle. We’ve been doing that for more than 25 years (since 1986). Everything must be perfect.”

An added appeal to the BMW is that it is “an elegant ride without being overstated,” Wheeler added, citing a consumer preference that has become more pronounced in the post-recession environment. “It’s not quite as flashy as a Mercedes-Benz.”

Related LCT article: BMW Sharpens, Grows Limo Program

Related LCT article: San Diego Operation Adds 15 BMW 740Lis

View comments or post a comment on this story. (5 Comments)

More News

Tesla Model S On Autopilot Involved In Crash

The vehicle struck a tourist bus in Germany, slightly injuring the driver.

Why, It's Just The Cutest Little Bubble Bus

Las Vegas casinos are about to get a small, self-driving shuttle.

Tiffany Limo Bus Offers Versatile Entertainment

Vehicle Pick Of The Week: The used 2012 MY party bus has low miles for under $100,000.

New Cadillac CT6 Helps Move Brand

The vehicle is priced right to make strides in the competitive luxury car class.

Bespoke Rolls-Royce Interiors To Make You Marvel

From one-of-a-kind cars to extremely limited-edition runs, here are just a few of the marvels that have been built.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (5)

Post a Comment



See More

See More

See More

See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - September 2016 $12.95 COVER STORY: * How Do We Max Our Markets? * *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close