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Chrysler dithers on fleet cars

black 300C

Chrysler does not have any immediate plans to fill the limo-fleet void left by the outgoing Lincoln Town Car, according to brand CEO Saad Chebad. At the Detroit Auto Show last week, Chebad told Allpar:

Our fleet guys are looking into it. It’s always about volume and investment and whether that market now is shrinking. I’m not familiar with it, honestly, of what is happening in terms of market or share of the market from the town car days until today.

GM is producing the Cadillac XTS Professional for the fleets.  Chrysler briefly produced an extended wheelbase Chrysler 300C line, which failed to gain traction against the Town Car.

Tarek Mallah, general manager of New York’s Dial7  and a co-founding member of the Livery Roundtable, said there were around 22,000 livery vehicles in New York City alone, including 8,000 “black cars.” Livery vehicles are called by end users and are often used as “airport cars;” “black cars” are paid for by business accounts.

Mr. Mallah cited the Chrysler 300’s drawbacks as rear legroom, luggage space, and reputation, since “past exposures” were unsuccessful; it was used largely by less prestigious car services, and never took off. The 300’s rear seat area was not sufficiently “dressed up” in the past, either. The 300C may help the car’s chances, since it provides the smoother ride and lower cost (both operating and up-front) of the V6 while still providing a luxurious interior with rear seat “dress-up.”

The Lincoln MKT has had resistance from drivers, fleet owners, and the public; the Escalade it is too high off the ground, and has high operating costs. The MKS’s leg room is too short, according to Mallah. Aftermarket extended vehicles are one possibility (though not for the expensive MKS). There are new options, including hybrids, and car services may choose to look at crossovers such as the Highlander and other nontraditional, non-premium-branded vehicles.

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