Bob Moody of Acton Fleet Sales congratulates Mike Hogan of Knights Airport Limousine Service of Shrewsbury, Mass. on his purchase of the first two 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Cars ever sold by Acton, the No. 1 Lincoln livery vehicle dealer in the U.S. Hogan picked up the vehicles Tuesday, March 27, 2012.
ACTON, Mass. — One of the biggest moments in Bill Cunningham’s decades-long career arrived Tuesday, when he got to deliver his first 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car to his first customer.
Cunningham, general manager of Acton Fleet Sales, the top Lincoln limo/livery vehicle seller in the U.S. by volume, received a truck containing five MKTs, and immediately turned around the first two vehicles for operator Mike Hogan of Knights Airport Limousine Service in Shrewsbury, Mass., which serves Boston Logan International Airport.
The dealership, which could have received the first MKTs the week of March 18, had to delay their arrival by a few days because of a backlog of other vehicles on its lot that had to be moved out.
“The more exposure an operator gets to the car and sees it, the more they become interested,” Cunningham told LCT. “They just want to know it’s being accepted by others, and that seems to put everyone into a comfort zone. They want to do the right thing for their company. The more they see others, the more willing they are to place orders.”
Out of the estimated 800 MKTs entered into the Lincoln livery order bank so far, Acton has taken about 400-plus, Cunningham said. The first 30 MKT Town Cars ordered by Acton, hitting their lot this week, are being parceled out to 11 different limousine fleet operations, with 10 of them in the Northeast and one in Texas. Another 25-30 are waiting not far away ready to hit the lot as soon as parking space allows, Cunningham said.
Acton also earned the distinction this month of selling the very first two MKT Town Cars to roll off the production line at the Ford plant in Oakville, Ontario — Car No. 1 was sold to Tiffany Coachworks in Perris, Calif., and Car No. 2 to Krystal Enterprises in Brea, Calif. The two leading coachbuilders in the U.S. will stretch their first MKTs into the next generation of MKT cross-over-body-styled limousines.
Given the many technological improvements and refinements on the MKT compared to the retired Town Car, dealers have to spend extra time orienting new customers and making sure they understand the vehicle, Cunningham said.
“The only way a customer can be unhappy is if the selling dealer doesn’t do his job properly,” he said. “You can’t just throw the car to the customer with keys and assume they know everything about it. There are a lot of high tech features that will require dealers to sit down with customers and teach them how it works and educate them on how the product works overall.”
Mike Hogan of Knights Airport Limousine Service of Shrewsbury, Mass. with his first two 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Cars.
Cunningham got firsthand insights into the manufacturing processes behind the MKT when he visited the Oakville plant March 11-14 with Jim Murray, QVM Manager and lead engineer of the Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles team that designed the MKT Town Car. Murray and his fellow engineers were so closely focused on perfecting details that they would send certain parts back to suppliers at the last minute if they were not exactly to spec or if there was even the slightest flaw, Cunningham said.
“Jim Murray is always second-guessing, checking everything and communicating with me,” said Cunningham, citing as examples some minor wrinkles in MKT headrests and seats that had to be redone at the last minute at the request of the Ford team. “That shows you the level of commitment they have.”
Final tests involved driving the MKT over cobblestones and rough surfaces to weed out any squeaks and rattles, he added. “I’ve been though many plants and I’ve never seen so many [managers] at the high level of the plant be so in tune with the product.”
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor