GREENVILLE, S.C. — Fortis Riders sent a letter to all of its North American affiliates this month requiring them to make sure their fleets contain Lincoln and Cadillac vehicles to handle clients farmed in from the global chauffeured transportation network.
Fortis Riders, based in Greenville, S.C., consists of 600 affiliates in 95 countries with access to about 20,000 vehicles. The request does not apply to affiliates outside North America.
“In order to have a consistent brand and level of service, we are asking that when we request an executive sedan that you provide our clients with a sedan of either a Lincoln or Cadillac make,” stated Stan McCune, affiliate director of Fortis Riders, in the letter dated Jan. 4.
The allowable vehicles for Fortis affiliates include: Lincoln MKT Town Car, Lincoln MKS sedan, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid L (by Royale), and the Cadillac XTS sedan, in addition to late model Lincoln Town Car and Cadillac DTS sedans still on the road. [The Lincoln MKS was not named in the original letter since it was sent prior to an announcement from Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles Jan. 17 that the MKS is being added to the livery program].
The letter asks affiliates to refrain from putting Fortis clients into any of the following vehicles: Hyundai Equus, Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300, BMW 5 or 7 series, or Mercedes-Benz E or S Class. Since the letter was sent, Fortis Riders also has added the R-Class Mercedes-Benz and Ford Fusion sedans to the non-usage list. The letter acknowledges that Fortis Riders gets occasional requests for S-Class Mercedes-Benz, which will be accommodated.
The letter comes as the chauffeured transportation vehicle market overall is growing more varied and competitive, especially in the last two years following the retirements of the longtime Lincoln Town Car and Cadillac DTS luxury sedan models. Limousine operators are diversifying fleets with more makes and models as the industry adjusts to changing client tastes, adds new generations of clients, and takes on demand from evolving niche sub-markets within chauffeured transportation.
In an interview with LCT, McCune said the global network devised the fleet policy based on client feedback. “Whereas the non-Lincoln/Cadillac options, such as the Chrysler 300 and the Toyota Avalon are nice vehicles, we do not feel that they provide a high-end experience, and our clients’ feedback has supported this as well,” McCune said. “Many of our clients are also opposed to European-make cars in the U.S., because they feel these are too flashy and draw unnecessary attention to themselves.”
McCune noted in particular that the Lincoln MKT Town Car has been well received and consistently requested by Fortis clients.
Fortis Riders makes clear that its affiliate limousine companies may still operate any luxury vehicles in their fleets that they choose, but they at least must make sure they have enough of the specified Lincoln and Cadillac models on hand for Fortis clients.
Affiliates that do not offer Lincolns and Cadillacs may continue as Fortis Riders affiliates, but will only be eligible to handle client requests for other chauffeured vehicles such as vans and SUVs, the letter states.
Affiliates/operators with questions or concerns can contact Fortis Riders at (877) 936-7847 or [email protected]
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor