Sport utility vehicles justify their workhorse reputation in a survey conducted by iseecars.com.
ABOUT PHOTO: Ford Fleet marketing manager Gerry Koss introduces the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car (left) just moments before the unveiling of the MKT Town Car stretch. It was one of the most important events in the 27-year history of the LCT Show. (Photo by Ron Rennells).
2011 INTERNATIONAL LCT SHOW: Lincoln pulls out one last surprise: The “Town Car” will not completely disappear, as the MKT livery version is unveiled as the “MKT Town Car” for the chauffeured transportation industry.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — After years of talk of the Lincoln Town Car going away, the five-decade plus model will remain, but in name only.
The 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car was officially unveiled at 5 p.m. Monday at the 2011 International LCT Show, along with a stretched version from DABRYAN COACH BUILDERS that was converted at an Accubuilt factory in Lima, Ohio.
The double-unveilings marked the official start of a new vehicle era in the chauffeured transportation industry, with Lincoln reshaping the vehicle market with its cross-over utility styled limo vehicle while Cadillac is set to announce a probable sedan successor to its DTS model within a year.
Production of the legendary Lincoln Town Car Executive L, the leading limo vehicle for two decades, will cease in August.
A crowd of operators and industry-related Show attendees crowded around the two prototypes parked in the convention hall at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino as LINCOLN representatives yanked the coverings off both vehicles.
The MKT Town Car will be available in two body styles: a standard livery version with available all-wheel drive, and stretchable heavy-duty limo, also with standard all-wheel drive.
“It’s time to end an era and move on to the next. The next generation Lincoln retains the DNA of all the Town Car attributes,” said Brad Roney, Ford fleet limousine and livery manager. Roney compared the phrase “I need a Town Car” to “Jell-O” and “Kleenex” — brand names so pervasive that they define the generic product itself.
Ford fleet marketing manager Gerry Koss said the MKT Town Car was “not something put together quickly.” The final product culminated three years of meticulous customer, engineering, design, and sales research, involving detailed feedback from focus groups and individual customers. Engineers worked hand in hand with Ford’s Limo/Livery Advisory Board, which provided key input on desired vehicle attributes such as performance, comfort and functionality. The board also talked directly to vehicle users, i.e. owners, chauffeurs and passengers, to get a better understanding of their wants and needs.
“The Lincoln MKT platform is the largest, most durable, most reliable platform in the [vehicle] portfolio,” Koss said. “This is the best livery vehicle ever developed by Ford Motor Co.”
The new MKT Town Car is an all-wheel drive vehicle that offers better performance, versatility, and fuel economy than its Town Car predecessor, Koss added. Such features are particularly relevant to operators contending with brutally cold snowstorms and rising fuel prices — two trends that accelerated this winter along the Eastern seaboard, the South, and the Midwest regions.
“Two thirds of customers chose this vehicle over the [previous] Town Car in our market research,” Koss said. “The command seating position makes it easier to get in and out than falling into the seat of a Town Car [sedan].” The rear seat, where most clients will ride, was set back an additional 1.5 inches compared to the retail model, and also partially reclines allowing for maximum headroom and legroom with the right front seat moves all the way forward.
Koss also pointed out the voice-activated phone and navigation features, Wi-Fi Internet access, USB outlets, and vista roof which come standard on the MKT Town Car.
In keeping the Town Car name, Lincoln’s marketing research found that the Town Car name is too synonymous with luxury to sever it from the new vehicle, and has a strong historical meaning for the chauffeured transportation industry, Roney told LCT later.
The price of the MKT Town Car has not been disclosed, but will be comparable to that of the 2011 Executive Town Car L, meaning it will be much closer to $40,000 than $50,000. By sharing the platform with other MKT versions, such as retail, police, and other fleet vehicles, the tooling and production costs of the MKT Town Car can be “amortized” across multiple vehicle lines, Koss explained to LCT.
A separate Lincoln platform and unique model just for the chauffeured transportation industry would not be profitable, since the industry sales volume could not sustain the production costs for such a vehicle, Koss said.
“Job 1” of the 2013 MKT Town Car will commence in March 2012 with the order bank opening up at dealerships in April 2012. The model could be on the roads as early as the fourth quarter of 2012. The new Lincoln MKT Town Car models will be manufactured at Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario, Canada.
MKT TOWN CAR STRETCH LIMOUSINE:
The DaBryan 120” stretch unveiled on the Show floor is a prototype that still needs a further refined interior, said Edward McDonald, chief operating officer of DaBryan Coach Builders, the limousine division of Accubuilt. The MKT Town Car stretch is two inches narrower but two inches taller than a sedan Town Car.
However, the interior of the MKT stretch that debuted at the Show is not the final version of the interiors that individual coachbuilders will be designing for their respective MKT stretch models, MacDonald told LCT. That means the J-seat legroom dimensions of the MKT prototype will increase with the new interior designs.
“We put Town Car parts into the prototype,” MacDonald said. “Ultimately, we’ll have new and reconfigured consoles and seats. We’ll get most of the legroom back for the occupants and there will be more headroom.”
An official Lincoln press release this week provides further details of the Lincoln MKT Town Car:
• 35 more horsepower under the hood than the Lincoln Town Car Executive L.
• The proportions and higher riding stance of the Lincoln MKT Town Car offer easier entry and exit for passengers as well as all-wheel drive capability.
• High craftsmanship of is evident with precise panel margins and the high tactile quality of interior surfaces and trim.
• Quality materials and precision-stitched craftsmanship are evident on every surface, such as the leather-trimmed seating.
• The new Lincoln MKT Town Car livery version uses a standard MKT chassis and is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations, with full technical details to be announced later this year.
• The heavy-duty limousine chassis will feature standard all-wheel drive for stretched wheelbase limousine conversion of up to an additional 120 inches (10 feet).
• Redesigned rear seating has been repositioned rearward by 1.5 inches for additional legroom, providing comfort and functionality. There is also a switch on the rear passenger side door that allows a rear seat passenger to control the front passenger seat ahead, providing even more legroom if necessary.
• The three-person rear seat also reclines for an additional level of comfort.
• The MKT Town Car livery model provides operators with a cargo capacity of 39.6 cubic feet, more than the outgoing Town Car sedan. With space to stow golf clubs or several pieces of baggage, the luggage area exceeds that of the outgoing Town Car sedan. A mini spare tire is also available to help maximize luggage space.
HIGH TECH TOUCHES:
• In-car voice activated navigation and Lincoln SYNC provide a smart and simple way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives. With the latest Lincoln SYNC system, the chauffeur will never have to take hands off the steering wheel when putting an address into the navigation system or when looking at the rear view camera.
• Key features to help passengers stay connected and productive while on the move in the new MKT Town Car include a USB charging port, a 110-volt power socket in the rear seat center console, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability for mobile tablets, laptops and other devices.
• The audio system controls are also fully accessible to rear seat passengers.
LIMOUSINE HEAVY DUTY-CHASSIS:
• The chassis can be stretched by up to 120 inches or 10 additional feet in length, while retaining the standard all-wheel drive capability.
• The MKT Town Car Limousine chassis incorporates several heavy-duty components, such as upgraded suspension, electric power-assisted steering system (EPAS) and transmission.
• The MKT Town Car limousine chassis also offers unique wheels and tires, unique wheel bearings and an upsized brake system.
• The limousine also has the standard MKT's third seating row removed, and comes equipped with a full-size spare tire.
• Available technology includes a rear view camera and SYNC.
• The Lincoln MKT Town Car features the same safety technologies available to customers of the standard Lincoln MKT crossover, including the Trinity Front Crash Body Architecture. The energy-absorbing body structure is optimized for strength and stiffness and features octagonal front frame rails, engine/cradle/front subframe, and “shotgun” front structural members designed to absorb and redirect crash forces away from the passenger compartment.
• It also includes Side Protection And Cabin Enhancement architecture (SPACE) to optimize side-impact occupant protection. The SPACE system integrates a hydroformed high-strength steel tube in the floor that runs the width of the vehicle from B-pillar to B-pillar and reinforcements along the rocker panels to help protect passengers in side-impact incidents.
• The Personal Safety System combines multiple technologies to tailor the airbag package and seat belt functions to the individual passenger and the accident circumstances. The system can identify variables, such as severity of the crash, weight of the individual passenger and seat belt usage, to adjust airbag deployment force.
Other key technologies and features included in the MKT Town Car models include:
• Puddle lamps on the rear doors.
• Map and newspaper pockets in the back of the front seats.
• Vanity mirrors in the headliner with integrated task light.
• Continuous rear floor mat for both footwells.
• Improved rear seating design.
• Remote start.
• Rear view camera.
• BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert.
• Wi-Fi capability for mobile tablet, laptops and other devices Lincoln SYNC.
• Voice activated navigation controls.
• Second-row 110-volt electric plug and USB mobile phone charger.
• Tri Zone EATC with Auxiliary HVAC unit.
SOURCES: Martin Romjue, LCT editor; Lincoln/Ford Motor Co.
Sport utility vehicles justify their workhorse reputation in a survey conducted by iseecars.com.
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