Vehicles

Commonwealth Worldwide Buys Two Chrysler 300 Limited Sedans

Posted on April 18, 2012
Commonwealth Worldwide Fleet Manager Dan Coughlin picks up the Boston-based company's first two Chrysler 300 Limited sedans from Acton Fleet Sales in Acton, Mass. on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

Commonwealth Worldwide Fleet Manager Dan Coughlin picks up the Boston-based company's first two Chrysler 300 Limited sedans from Acton Fleet Sales in Acton, Mass. on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

Commonwealth Worldwide Fleet Manager Dan Coughlin picks up the Boston-based company's first two Chrysler 300 Limited sedans from Acton Fleet Sales in Acton, Mass. on Thursday, April 12, 2012.
Commonwealth Worldwide Fleet Manager Dan Coughlin picks up the Boston-based company's first two Chrysler 300 Limited sedans from Acton Fleet Sales in Acton, Mass. on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

BOSTON — One of the largest and oldest chauffeured operations in Boston bought two Chrysler 300 Limited sedans in the past week as it seeks a successor vehicle to its extensive fleet of Lincoln Town Car Executive L sedans.

Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation took delivery of the sedans from Acton Fleet Sales in Acton, Mass., the No. 1-ranked dealer for Lincoln limousine vehicles that also now sells the Chrysler 300 Limited to the chauffeured transportation market.

Commonwealth will test one 300 Limited in each of its home-base markets of Boston and New York, CEO Dawson Rutter told LCT. Rutter said he liked the look of the 300 while viewing vehicles on the trade floor of the International LCT Show in Las Vegas in February.

Test ride
By coincidence, Rutter was picked up from the conference site at the MGM Grand Hotel in a Chrysler 300 by ODS Chauffeured Transportation to be chauffeured to the Las Vegas airport for his return flight. “I really liked it; the interior was comfortable and there was ample room in the backseat. There’s not that much less legroom than in a Town Car. . . We’re sending them out and seeing what the customers think.” Rutter also anticipates fuel savings resulting from the 300’s 26-28 mpg combined city/highway, and likes the extended warranty plan that covers 800+ individual parts.

Commonwealth has the Boston-based 300 fully licensed and will put it into service immediately. The New York-based 300 still needs registrations and licenses, so it will enter service within three weeks.

As of today, Commonwealth Worldwide operates a fleet of 145 chauffeured luxury vehicles in Boston and 85 in New York City. Of the 230-vehicle total fleet, 60% are Lincoln Town Car Executive L sedans. Lincoln retired that longtime livery model last year.

Being choosy
Like many limousine operators, Rutter is taking his time to test and evaluate different chauffeured vehicles before choosing a primary workhorse vehicle to succeed his Town Cars. Sedans being tested in the Commonwealth fleet include two Royale Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sedans (extended six inches) in Boston and one in New York; and three Lincoln MKS sedans each in Boston and New York. Rutter said he also wants to test out another industry newcomer in his fleet, the BMW 535i GT sedan, which also debuted at the International LCT Show. Commonwealth also runs 15 Mercedes-Benz S550 sedans and two R430s as part of its premium level vehicle service.

With an average Commonwealth fleet vehicle age of just over 10 months, Rutter said he doesn’t really need to choose a Town Car successor for at least another year. “We have a lot of time. We expect that this decision will evolve instead of be on a specific deadline. We won’t have any vehicle retirements this year because we bought so many new [Town Cars] last year. We’ll have a mixed fleet for the next few years until we find one vehicle that does the trick for us. There’s plenty of time for it all to sink in and see what customers like.”

Commonwealth Worldwide is considered to be one of the most prestigious and influential chauffeured vehicle operations in Boston and New York, with a wide global affiliate network built up since Rutter founded the company about three decades ago. Commonwealth is now highly sought after by smaller limousine companies for affiliate and farm-in work.

Any vehicle purchasing decisions by large influential operators such as Rutter will be closely watched industry-wide, as the vehicle preferences of larger chauffeured transportation operations have the potential to influence the vehicle purchases of smaller limousine companies that belong to their nationwide affiliate networks.

Commonwealth Worldwide will test the Chrysler 300 Limited sedan in its fleets in Boston and New York.
Commonwealth Worldwide will test the Chrysler 300 Limited sedan in its fleets in Boston and New York.

Open market
The willingness of Rutter to seriously test market the Chrysler 300 Limited also underscores the fluidity of the chauffeured vehicle market this year, which offers more choices and variety than ever before. Many limousine operators are exploring multiple vehicle options in the wake of the retirements of the Lincoln Town Car Executive L and Cadillac DTS last year.

Chrysler announced shortly before the International LCT Show in February that it was offering its luxury sedan to the limousine industry. It now competes with the two leading domestic brand newcomers, the Lincoln MKT Town Car, released to dealers and first operator buyers in mid-March, and the Cadillac XTS sedan, which will be landing at dealerships in May.

This is the first time that all of Detroit’s “Big 3” are vying for share in the chauffeured transportation market with next-generation vehicles via formal livery vehicle buyer programs. Their competition for the limo/livery market share has proven more robust than first expected and is another sign of the strong comeback for GM and Chrysler following government bailouts in 2009. (Ford Motor Co. did not require government bailout loans).

Rutter, however, has ruled out one fleet vehicle option for sure: the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car. Despite being a longtime Lincoln loyalist, Rutter said he cannot bring himself to consider the MKT a luxury vehicle, given its shape. “It’s a crossover, something between a sedan and a Caravan.”

Acton Fleet Sales in Acton, Mass. is selling the 2012 Chrysler 300 Limited sedan to limousine operators for $30,495 each. The 300 gets 31 mpg highway.
Acton Fleet Sales in Acton, Mass. is selling the 2012 Chrysler 300 Limited sedan to limousine operators for $30,495 each. The 300 gets 31 mpg highway.

MKT vs. 300
For Bill Cunningham, general manager at Acton Fleet Sales, the MKT Town Car and 300 Limited have both gotten a lot of attention, with some customers partial to one or the other and some customers having trouble choosing which they prefer.  Acton so far has brought in 25 Chrysler 300 Limited sedans, with another 10 in the order bank. The 2013 model of the Chrysler 300 Limited will start production in July.

Cunningham points out that the MKT Town Car actually has gained headroom, trunk space, rear seat comfort, and more entry/exit room compared to its predecessor.

The MKT Town Car gets 21 mpg and costs $43,200 at Acton, while the 300 gets 31 mpg and sells at Acton for $30,495. Cunningham estimates $3,545 in annual fuel cost savings for the 300 Limited compared to the MKT Town Car.

Warranties

  • The MKT has a factory bumper-to-bumper warranty up to 50,000 miles, and then an Extra Care warranty program to 150,000 miles that covers 113 parts with a $100 deductible.
  • The Chrysler 300 Limited has a 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and thereafter an added-care warranty that covers 800+ parts with a $100 deductible up to 4 yrs/150,000 miles.

“I think there is a lot of interest in the 300,” Cunningham told LCT. “The [MKT and 300] are two different cars. Some people are conscious of every penny. It all comes down to what they think is best for their customers. Many come in and want to improve their bottom lines, wondering if they should cut overhead or raise rates. That makes the 300 worth a second look. But you can’t take anything away from the MKT. The Chrysler is more in line with the size of the old Town Car, not the L. Vehicles now servicing this industry are different; they’re smaller to get the gas mileage up and we all need to accept that and deal with it.”

Related LCT article: Lincoln MKT Town Car Profile

Related LCT article: CA operator Maurice Brewster Tests 300

Related LCT article: CA operator Chris Quinn Tests 300

Related LCT article: Chrysler 300 Limited Joins Limo Vehicle Market

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related Topics: Acton SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles, Bill Cunningham, Chrysler, Chrysler 300, Dawson Rutter, dealerships, Lincoln, Lincoln MKT, Massachusetts operators, new vehicles, vehicle sales

Comments ( 2 )
  • Andrew Pappas

     | about 6 years ago

    If I were to stretch, I would use the 300C for the added torque. As for the MKT, it has the size to replace the Town car L, but ingress/egress would be difficult for an elderly person, or a shorter person. We have people who dont want Suvs for this reason. I find a Suburban or Escalade is easier than the Mkt, simply due to the running boards. The MKS has a too small trunk opening for large luggage. The BMW is intiguing, but Im concerned over maintenance costs after the warranty period. Id say its between the 300 and the XTS, and keep it to 2-3 passengers with luggage, where you may have squeezed the family of 4 into a town car. They would now get a full size suv.

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