Here are some sights and scenes from one wicked cool tradeshow.
CERRITOS, Calif. — If you build it and sell it all, then there will be no place else your customers will want to go.
That would sum up the vision that Acton Fleet Sales and SoCal Penske have been pursuing since forming their coast-to-coast partnership in September 2012. The livery dealer, who leverages the dealership networks of the SoCal Penske, Sentry Lincoln and Acton Chrysler groups, has become the leading seller of chauffeured vehicles — Lincoln, Cadillac and Chrysler — to the chauffeured transportation industry. The client list now numbers more than 2,000 operators who have bought one or more limousine or livery vehicles from Acton/SoCal Penske.
The two leaders of the partnership, Bill Cunningham, vice president and general manager of Acton Fleet Sales, and Philip Hartz, the CEO and managing partner of SoCal Penske, have been traversing the U.S. during the last 18 months building up their professional transportation client powerhouse. Penske Cadillac is already the largest seller of Cadillac commercial vehicle chassis’s in the U.S. Operators can buy the Cadillac XTS, Cadillac XTS-L, Lincoln MKT Town Car, and Lincoln MKS and the Chrysler 300 on AFS/SCP lots with complete maintenance, service and warranty plans. Livery SUVs, including the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, are also available.
The arrangement so far has worked very well bringing sales to both coasts and points in between, with speedier deliveries, wider selection, and reliable maintenance and service all under one company roof, Hartz said.
With that foundation in place, Cunningham and Hartz plan some major vehicle announcements leading up to the International LCT Show in Las Vegas Feb. 16-18. One of them will be the debut of a new six-inch stretch version of the Chrysler 300. The other to-be-announced project is not ready yet for public disclosure, but will eventually position Acton/SoCal Penkse to be able to sell enough diverse vehicles for an entire chauffeured fleet, from sedans to vans to mini-buses.
Those moves capitalize on the company’s success with the Cadillac XTS-L livery sedan, made by Specialty Vehicles Group in Amelia, Ohio which debuted at the 2013 ILCT Show in February and has taken hold in fleets nationwide. The 7-inch stretch sedan — built out at the B-pillar with OEM rear doors — has been refined and calibrated according to CMC specs to achieve the seamless construction quality and mechanical precision of Cadillac XTS livery sedans. About 50 of the L versions have been sold so far, with Los Angeles-based Music Express as the biggest customer, running 18 of them.
As a major seller of luxury vehicles, the Acton/SoCal partnership serves as an accurate barometer of national chauffeured vehicle sales trends. Cunningham said the XTS is establishing itself as the premium luxury sedan of the industry. A rough breakdown of sales volume ratios so far shows the XTS getting a 60-65% share; the Chrysler 300 getting 20% market share, and Lincoln MKT and MKS about 15-20%.
During a visit with LCT on Dec. 11 at a Penske-owned Chevrolet dealership in Cerritos, Hartz mentioned that as of that date his dealerships have $7 million worth of livery inventory on the ground, ready to roll. The 2015 Cadillac Escalade, which debuted at LCT Show East in October and will be on display at the ILCT Show in February, will hit the market in the second quarter of 2014. It has an all-new chassis, body, drive train and transmission.
The Acton/SoCal Penske network is conforming to post-recession trends and demands that are sweeping through the chauffeured transportation industry. Operators have to diversify their fleets while retaining operational economies of scale in order to compete in a more crowded ground transportation market driven by technology and changing customer preferences and needs.
“We’ve been listening a lot to customers and learning from them,” Cunningham said. “What do they really want? We’ve been brainstorming and working with clients to put the right products out there.”
Acton/SoCal Penske's updated sedan base price list:
LCT related article: New Venture Puts Domestic Limo Models In One Sales Network
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor
Related Topics: Acton SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles, Bill Cunningham, Cadillac XTS, Chrysler 300, dealerships, ILCT 2014, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, Phillip Hartz, vehicle sales, working with a dealer
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