Industry Research

Vehicle Vendors Drive Heavy Foot Traffic At ILCT Show

Posted on February 17, 2012
The Cadillac Professional Vehicles and GM team got all decked out for the big debut of the 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan, the successor to the DTS. Operators could sit in two XTS sedans at the International LCT Show.

The Cadillac Professional Vehicles and GM team got all decked out for the big debut of the 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan, the successor to the DTS. Operators could sit in two XTS sedans at the International LCT Show.

The Cadillac Professional Vehicles and GM team got all decked out for the big debut of the 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan, the successor to the DTS. Operators could sit in two XTS sedans at the International LCT Show.
The Cadillac Professional Vehicles and GM team got all decked out for the big debut of the 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan, the successor to the DTS. Operators could sit in two XTS sedans at the International LCT Show.

 

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The 2012 International LCT Show, considered the largest global limousine industry trade show worldwide, has scored its highest number of attendees, revenue, and vendor sales activity since the Show in March 2008, just before the onset of the Great Recession.

LCT does not release exact attendance and reveue figures, but attendance is likely to be up by mid-teen percentages compared to last year while the vendor count was up about 40%. The sold-out Show floor had 104 exhibitors.

A more robust market for chauffeured vehicles and the most diverse vehicle selection in industry history propelled attendance and enthusiasm in the first calendar year without a model Lincoln Town Car Executive L sedan or a Cadillac DTS sedan. Some operators have bought up the last remaining 2011 Executive L sedans in bulk to give them as much time as possible to evaluate fleet choices.

Into the breach has stepped an array of choices for operators, including the debuting Cadillac XTS sedan and the perfected 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car. The heavily traveled trade floor of the Show, held Feb. 13-15 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, offered the most vehicles since 2008, and the widest selection of vehicle builders.

New to the Show floor were BMW, Rolls-Royce, Hyundai, and Chrysler. In fact, Chrysler surprised the industry in January with its announcement that it would offer the 2012 Chrysler 300 Limited sedan as an alternative to Lincoln. General Manager Bill Cunningham of Acton Fleet Sales reported Wednesday that he had taken orders for 30 300s from operators during the Show. The vehicle is priced at $32,400. The new 300 is markedly upgraded from the previous version of the Chrysler 300 that was modified by Accubuilt and discontinued in 2010.

The 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan was the big debut vehicle at the 2012 International LCT Show in Las Vegas.
The 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan was the big debut vehicle at the 2012 International LCT Show in Las Vegas.

 

But the most visited exhibit on the floor was that of Cadillac, which for the first time offered its livery edition of the next generation XTS sedan. Two showstopper XTS sedans, one white and one black, were thoroughly sampled and sat in by operators moving in and out of the backseats as the formally dressed Cadillac Professional Vehicles team hosted a champagne-and-pianist reception on the opening day. Pricing for the XTS will be released next month, and the order bank will open some time during the second quarter. CPV's Ray Bush estimates the XTS will be priced between $40,000 and $50,000.

The sheer variety of vehicle options — including a variety of mini-buses, mid-coaches and motorcoaches — portends an anticipated vehicle buying binge over the next several years as chauffeured transportation fleets have to be upgraded and diversified to meet changing and widening client tastes. If the 2012 ILCT Show opened a year operators and vehicle suppliers flirt and check either out, then the 2013 ILCT Show will likely mark the year when there is some serious “hooking up” on purchases.

Overall, the manufacturers and coachbuilders who were present at the International LCT Show constitute the highest-quality, most innovative vehicle segment of the chauffeured transportation industry that appeals to corporate and luxury retail consumer tastes.

Among other vehicle and Show-related highlights:

  • Leading coachbuilders such as Krystal, DaBryan, Royale, ECB and Tiffany all rolled out refined prototypes of the MKT Town Car 120” stretch limousines. The MKT stretches offer two inches more headroom, far more cargo space, and interior technology upgrades consistent with the era of smartphones, touch screens, and wireless connectivity.
  • Rolls-Royce displayed a dashing version of its Ghost model, an elegant blue and white custom-made sedan costing $356,000.
  • A vehicle manufacturers panel attended by executives from seven of the major livery vehicle suppliers emphasized better mileage, more sophisticated technology, luxury amenities, and boosted V6 engine performance as vehicle traits that more than make up for the slightly smaller vehicle chassis compared to those of the traditional Town Car and DTS vehicles.
  • Industry newcomers Hyundai and BMW displayed chauffeur-ready vehicles for the first time. Hyundai brought the Genesis and Equus models, and BMW displayed its 535 GT model and a 7-series premium luxury sedan.
  • The rise in the number and variety of bus displays, including two full-size motorcoaches, underscored the chauffeured transportation industry’s growing strides into the group ground transportation market.
  • A State Of The Industry presentation by LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-McLean emphasized the importance of pricing integrity and consistency of service: Operators should not be willing to drop prices too much, too fast. That indicates a willingness to be browbeaten on price. Likewise, operators need to ensure a high service quality so they can sell overall value. Sara also urged the industry to follow a strong code of ethics, especially given the bad behavior in past years in the U.S. financial sector and among politicians. Belittling and bad-mouthing within and without the industry also lowers the bar, and hurts the collective image of the industry. Business travelers are now more self-made, independent, value-focused and hard-working that ever before. They work hard for less and miss out on personal time with their kids and families. Operators must continually strive to meet the expectations of this highly educated segment that has exposure to the finer things in life and luxury expectations.
  • LCT will launch a Masters Operator Certification Program in 2012 that sets high quality standards among chauffeured transportation companies.
  • Attendees packed all of the four-track seminar programs — the most themed educational tracks to date — that focused on home-based businesses, office-based businesses, middle management, and the bus business. The programs were designed by the NLA and LCT. The ILCT staff observed high attendance levels even during the traditionally slower Wednesday afternoon portion of the Show.
  • The National Limousine Association Political Action Fund so far has raised $36,000, a record amount, reported NLA board director Dawson Rutter, also a co-chair of the NLA Political Action Committee. Rutter wrote a check for $5,000 during the NLA board meeting Feb. 12 to boost total funding to $41,000. Rutter urged board directors and NLA members to renew their PAC funding pledges since this is an important election year, and the NLA wants to be able to help support those candidates that will be helpful to chauffeured transportation industry legislative and regulatory goals. The NLA PAC plans to host a fund-raiser for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on March 9 in Boston.
  • And LCT Magazine struck a first with its instant, real-time coverage of Show developments via LCT Facebook and Twitter. A pre-selected Facebook “Street Team” posted continuous alerts, advice, updates, pointers, and developments throughout the four-day Show period.

[LOOK FOR ADDITIONAL SHOW COVERAGE IN THE MARCH/APRIL ISSUE OF LCT MAGAZINE AND FUTURE EDITIONS OF LCT E-NEWS]

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related Topics: Bill Cunningham, Cadillac XTS, Chrysler 300, ILCT 2012, Lincoln MKT, National Limousine Association, new vehicles, Sara Eastwood

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