Don’t look now, but the next time someone meets you at the airport holding a sign with your name on it, he may lead you not to a Lincoln Town Car, the mainstay of the livery car service for, well, decades and now well beyond the last one was made. The destination may be a Cadillac, and no, not a Cadillac Escalade but the new 2013 Cadillac XTS.
Ford was counting on the Lincoln MKT crossover minivan to take the place of the Town Car, but when is the last time you saw one at the airport? Indeed, when is the last time you saw one at all? But that’s another story.
Right now, General Motors is reporting that one out of ten of the all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS is going into the livery trade, or more commonly, the airport limo business. Depending on whether you’re a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full type of person, that’s either good news or bad. It’s bad if it suggests that sales of the civilian 2013 Cadillac XTS isn’t as high as they should be.
Cadillac, however, credits it to the success of the special W20 Livery Package that, in a dig at the typically service-worthy Town Car, is “[u]nlike many of the cars built for the livery and fleet industries in the past.” The XTS W20 Livery Package XTS model is positioned at the higher-end of the product range. Features include 19-inch wheels, exterior door handles with LED illumination, a rear vision camera, and a micro-fiber suede headliner that’s not in the XTS playbook until you get to the Platinum Edition.
If you’re lucky, your limo driver’s Cadillac XTS with have the available rear seat comfort package that includes heated seats, window sun shades and—because your laptop is almost out of battery from playing solitaire on the plane—a power inverter to charge a laptop, iPad, iPod, Kindle and mobile devices with a standard 120v plugin. Navigation—a feature for the driver—is also available in the W20 Livery Package.
The 2013 Cadillac XTS W20 Livery Package is available through Cadillac’s Professional Vehicles program and only to livery companies. Because passengers in a livery service XTS may be experiencing a Cadillac for the first time, and those passengers are likely to be potential XTS customers, it’s a good idea for Cadillac to put its best foot forward in its livery service vehicles.
An earlier example of General Motors just the opposite was the Chevrolet Classic, which Chevrolet sold to rental fleets starting in 2004. It was, in fact, it was the car Chevrolet had sold as the Chevy Malibu from the 1997 through 2003 model year. When the new generation Malibu took over, Chevrolet simply slapped the Classic nameplate on the Malibu and kept cranking the fully amortized vehicles out the door. The cars, though well equipped, were at least two steps behind the contemporary retail market equivalents in handling and performance, giving Honda and Toyota owners another reason not to shop at a Chevrolet dealership, and by extension other GM stores, when replacing their cars.
It’s a problem facing Lincoln sales, as the only Lincoln that many in the luxury market have experienced might be the well-worn back seat of a livery Town Car. So while a significant portion of Cadillac XTS sales may be to livery service, which may be to Cadillac’s advantage, but only if the Cadillac experienced is first class and a pleasant as that in its retail competition. That would be GM’s full glass.