by Jim Woods | February 20, 2013 7:00 am
The perpetual war for market share in the auto industry always has fierce battles: General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) Corvette vs. Ford’s (NYSE:F) Mustang, and Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) Lexus luxury brands vs. Nissan’s (PINK:NSANY) Infiniti offerings are just two example of the showdowns taking place in auto-land.
Yet one battlefield in the auto market now has been won largely by default, and that is the battle to take consumers from point “A” to point “B” in style.
Last fall, GM’s Cadillac division unveiled a trio of specialty “livery” vehicles, which are modified versions of the 2013 Cadillac XTS. The livery sedan, limousine and “funeral coach” are designed to take the place of Ford’s Lincoln Town Car vehicles, which for years had a virtual stranglehold on this niche market.
Indeed, the popularity of the Lincoln Town Car, which was a fixture in the stables of just about every limousine company for decades, made it the hands-down winner in this specialty vehicle space. But last year, Ford decided to give the Lincoln brand a makeover, and that decision included the killing of the Town Car.
Now, GM isn’t really known as a company quick to react to a market void, but the Cadillac brand has long been a big player in the chauffer-car market, albeit with far less success than the Lincoln. So, I guess it was a logical extension of the brand’s expansion to the former land of Lincoln.
Like the specially outfitted Lincoln Town Cars, the new Cadillac XTS models — equipped with what the company has deemed its W20 Livery Package — will include all of the limo extras that the Lincoln’s generally offered such as heated seats, window shades, smartphone chargers, sunroofs, etc.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing, was quoted as saying:
“We are bringing a new formula to the livery customer … every experience in a Cadillac, front seat or rear seat, meets a higher standard for luxury, performance and technology.”
If successful, the Caddy will be the new standard in the livery stable, and that will be a definite plus for GM if for nothing else than for the luxury brand awareness for the GM division.
Interestingly, Lincoln isn’t going down without at least a little bit of a fight, as Ford has tapped its front-wheel-drive MKT crossover as its new Town Car. This vehicle, at least so far, has been met with less-than-enthusiastic response by limo companies.
Perhaps the best evidence of the changing of the guard from Lincoln to Cadillac can be seen via the world’s largest limo company, Carey International. The company recently purchased 150 new Cadillac XTS W20s — a move that is surely to be repeated by many more in the industry.
The bottom line here is that when it comes to going places in chauffeur-driven style, including that final resting place, you can bet the future will include a lot more Cadillacs … and a lot fewer Lincolns.
As of this writing, Jim Woods held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
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