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CLINTON, N.J. — AAA Worldwide Transportation emerged among the first New Jersey-based limousine companies to take delivery recently of four 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car crossovers for its 29-vehicle fleet.
General Manager Alex Mayer picked up the vehicles March 26 from Jim O’Brien, sales manager at Ditschman/Flemington Ford Lincoln in Flemington, N.J. Capitalizing on the MKT’s next-generation technology, AAA has further outfitted the workhorse luxury chauffeured vehicles with Apple iPad 3s at $630 each.
“We need to as an industry to really support one vehicle, especially when it comes down to our back end,” Mayer told LCT when asked why AAA chose the MKT as its Town Car successor. “If we have the mirage of different vehicles out there, whatever people are using, then on the back end we [hurt] the worth of the vehicle. The beauty of the Lincoln Town Car was that you could drive it for 200,000 miles and turn it around and sell it at the end of the day. If we don’t stick and support one [vehicle], then our back end will get shot.”
The other advantages of the MKT are its superior safety features and engineering, Mayer said. “The all-wheel-drive is a huge plus for us, especially in the Northeast with the snow.” Mayer also likes the key system, which consists of a set of “MyKeys” and the master “Admin Key.” Chauffeur accesses and operational limits can be electronically set via individualized My Keys for each MKT, whereas the Admin Key can override all of parameters. “With the MyKey, you can set the speed so the chauffeur doesn’t go over 80 mph, or radio volume doesn’t go over 45%, and lane detection is turned on automatically. There are so many more safety features than in the Town Car.”
AAA Worldwide plans to enter the MKTs into fleet service either on Friday or Monday, depending on how long it takes to train chauffeurs and set up the iPads and electronic presets. “We are carefully going through each car because we want all to be the same,” Mayer said. Many of the detailed controls, such as blinkers and volume options, are more advanced and varied from those of the Town Car, for example.
Mayer’s only concern about the MKT is the fact that there is no space between the bumper and the rear hatchback door. In a rear-end bumper collision, the door would inevitably get damaged, resulting in higher repair costs. However, the back-up cameras and sensor warnings help offset any backing risks, he added.
AAA Worldwide will replace four of its 20 Town Car sedans with the MKTs, and plans to buy two more MKT Town Cars within the next six months. AAA Worldwide is majority owned by Ken Schapiro.
AAA has created its own back-office software application that will allow its chauffeurs to report directly to the office via an iPad. Using specially mounted iPads, chauffeurs can use this app to automatically plot out the best route to any destination and add any stops along the way before getting there, right there on the spot.
The iPad also will serve as a GPS for the vehicle and provide GPS tracking for dispatch. Access to the livery system and two-way text and voice communication between the chauffeur and both dispatch and the passenger are additional benefits. Furthermore, the Bluetooth integration through the iPad will mean that the passenger won't hear words or sounds coming in from dispatch. The ability to track flight and train times, as well as monitor road traffic, will ensure that all rides are done in the timeliest manner possible.
The iPad will also function as an airport sign, a WiFi hotspot, the passenger's favorite newspaper or magazine, and so much more to create the perfect marriage of technology and transportation. Future enhancements will include remote vehicle maintenance tracking and notification, and many other exciting features that will enhance the riding experience.
Among key changes of the MKT Town Car compared to its predecessor, the 2011 Lincoln Town Car Executive L:
While much has been redesigned for the MKT Town Car, the most obvious change is the vehicle's look. The Lincoln MKT Town Car now sports a car/SUV hybrid design to ease entry to- and exit from- the vehicle. The new design and moon roof also make for a more open feel than the previous Town Car.
Sources: AAA Worldwide; Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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