MORE SKEPTICS NEEDED: A global environmental expert reports the truth behind subsidized electric cars in a Wall Street Journal commentary this week. How refreshing to read some common sense amid the green hype.
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The recent spat between Tesla Motors and the New York Times over its road test review of the Tesla Model S Sedan does not flatter the electric vehicle maker.
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TESLA PULLS THE PLUG ON ILCT:
A batch of news stories about the Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan underscores how it attracts a lot of attention, since it is the most realistic and appealing all-electric car on the market so far. Recent articles include reviews and coverage in the Wall Street Journal
, Los Angeles Times
, and a Bloomberg TV clip rebutting
an unfavorable review in the New York Times
. Unfortunately, Tesla pulled out of the International LCT Show in Las Vegas at the last minute despite arrangements being offered for test drives, a focus group and all kinds of publicity. Let's hope Tesla eventually reciprocates the interest of limousine operators, who are realizing that this truly green vehicle has the potential to compete in the premium chauffeured luxury vehicle category. According to Forbes, Tesla, "which is still fighting for credibility, has posted a loss in every quarter since its initial public offering in 2010, including a $111 million loss in the third quarter, on revenue of $50 million. In October, Tesla raised $193 million in a secondary stock offering. Success of the Model S, which ranges in price from $54,000 to more than $100,000, is seen as critical to the company’s survival." -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
2013 ADDS LIMO AMENITIES: LCT will publish an article in the December issue on the new 2013 Toyota Avalon, now available in gasoline and hybrid models.
The modified L livery version adds the following relevant chauffeured car amenities: expanded trunk room, rear seat HVAC controls, extra rear seat legroom, and a rear seat heater.
With a price points of $31,360 MSRP for the gasoline version and $$33,750 MSRP for the hybrid version (destination charges and livery discounts not included), the 2013 Avalon provides the ideal mix of comfort, reliability, style, fuel economy and overhead to meet the challenges and demands of a more cost-conscious and value-driven chauffeured marketplace. Wall Street Journal/Japan Toyota Avalon preview year. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid wields a 3.0-liter V6 engine that delivers 302 horsepower & 273 pound-feet of torque, supplemented with an electric motor rated at 27 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque.
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A review in Car & Driver points out that the electric Nissan Leaf Limo built by Imperial Limoland.com still needs to make some big gains in range. Most limousine companies will not invest in a vehicle that only gets a maximum of 58 miles in range before recharging for 12 hours. Unless a hotel is within a few miles of an airport, the limousine simply isn’t viable for transportation service. And the fact that it is a compact, however stretched, certainly qualifies it as ground transportation, but not of the luxury kind. Operators would not feel comfortable running a low-range electric vehicle between most downtown locations and outlying airports in most American cities. But until the range improves on electric vehicles overall, there is always a market for indulging green dreams at theme parks (Tomorrowland vehicles of the future?) or maybe using it as a high-end golf cart or shuttle showpiece at resorts with 18-hole courses. We look forward to the day technology and energy harnessing evolves to make large electric luxury vehicles stretchable with the same performance, cost, and profit potential as today’s fossil-fueled choices. Anything less is questionable. — Martin Romjue, LCT editor
Be careful before plugging into green energy. It could zap your wallet.
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The electric vehicle’s added space may be perfect for clients who bring a little extra luggage. The rear trunk is 28.7 cubic feet, rising to 58.1 cubic feet with the aft seats collapsed, and the front trunk – yes, front
trunk – is 8.1 cubic feet.
The Model S
is the first all-electric luxury sedan and has an estimated price range of $50,350 - $79,350. It reaches 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and will be on sale in the U.S. in mid-2012. The “Signature” trim of the Model S will carry a 300-mile range battery.
-- Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
With nearly 95% of the legroom and MORE headroom than the Town Car Executive L, the Royale-built Hybrid L Fusion was a nice ride from O’Hare to Downtown Chicago.
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BMW MAKES STRIDES:
Professional Driver magazine in the United Kingdom has honored the BMW 730Ld with its overall Car of the Year title
as well as a victory in the Chauffeur Car category. Two U.S. operators using a BMW 7-series are Strack Transportation
of Los Angeles and Red Limo of Miami
. LCT article on Strack Transportation BMW here
. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
A sneak peak of Tesla’s Model S prototype cruising around a test track, and a new study on electric-car GHG emissions with surprising results.
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Americans want higher fuel mileage, but not if it means paying more for vehicles. That's good for the chauffeured transportation industry. Driving greener shouldn't cost a penny more. Motto going forward: Practical luxury without sacrifices.
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Since when did size, power, and luxury become such bad words in Autoland? Let's help the luxury environment by making the Escalade an official evergreen.
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FINE TUNING: Report shows that the debut of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybird, one of the models that is part of the Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles program, will be delayed until the second half of 2012. Ford apparently wants to spend more time improving the styling of the mid-size luxury sedan, which could get up to 48 mpg. That would make it one of the most economical luxury sedans on the market. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
PARTISAN LIVERY: The Obama Administration finally demonstrates to the American taxpayer the true distinction between a "Limousine Liberal" and a "Chauffeured Conservative." Hint: The CC pays for the ride out of his own money earned in the private sector.
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The industry's premium luxury sedan will undergo key technological and stylistic changes for the 2013 MODEL YEAR
. Luxury vehicles keep getting better and more efficient, so we may not be headed into a smaller vehicle world after all. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
BLURRING GROUND TRANSPORTATION: Are we headed for a transportation APOCALYPSE? With the luxury-driven chauffeured transportation sector indulging such little compact brats as the Toyota Priussy, we now get word that CABBIES IN NEW YORK ARE GOING ALL-OUT LEXUS! Go figure: You can pay less for a Lexus cab ride in New York than a chauffeured ride in a Prius or a Ford Fusion Hybird. This could be cosmically consequential, and maybe we are headed for a Vehicle Rapture in the industry. That might please the always SCHEMING, SNOOTY-GREEN NEW YORK TAXI & LIMOUSINE COMMISSION, which does not exactly trend toward, shall we say, vehicle tolerance and diversity. What will be left behind? -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
FLAKY & FINICKY
: Hollywood-types are well-know for changing gigs, swapping out spouses and partners ("Shine On Liz, You Crazy Diamond!"
), reinventing their images, "moving on". . . so it should be no surprise that the glitzy jet set, now canoodling at the annual Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera, have DUMPED THE LITTLE TOYOTA PRIUS ("I think, it's like, we each need more space, ya know?")
in favor of a younger, more desirable electric vehicle. Once the darling of luminaries striving to be greener than Kermit, the Priussy ferried many a high-profile celebrity into the media-studded awards-show drop-off lanes. But if the Hollywood hipsters and their assistants truly had a clue about green luxury vehicles, they would be patronizing en masse the as-yet unrivaled LINCOLN MKZ HYBRID
and/or the ROYALE VERSIONS
of that vehicle. Those U.S.-built hybrids provide the best mileage and comfort in the green zone so far, and have thankfully, finally jettisoned the Priussy from the chauffeured curbside to its rightful place in the commuter lanes. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
Last week, I had the chance to get away from the monotony of Fact Book editing and enjoy the sublime Southern California weather on the back of a motorcycle limo, courtesy of Beverly Hills, Calif.-based MOTO LIMOS CLUB, a chauffeured transportation company that launched in March 2011.
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The mid-sized luxury LINCOLN MKZ HYBRID received a favorable boost from a reviewer in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. MKZ AUTO REVIEW AND VIDEO HERE
. 2011 is the first model year in which Ford/Lincoln is promoting the MKZ Hybrid as part of its luxury livery fleet selection. [The others, of course, are the 2011 Lincoln Town Car Executive L, in its final year, and the Lincoln Navigator SUV]. Two key points from the review: The MKZ Hybrid has sufficient legroom, AND the car overall does not scream "green," which can be a turnoff to many motorists. -- M.R.
NEW SERIES: Jack Lee, President and CEO of 4Refuel Canada Inc., a fuel management company, begins a series of columns on how drivers can save on fuel use and costs.
[NOTE: LCT blog columnist Jim Luff is off this week].
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LONG WAY TO GO: BMW is offering a sneak peek of -- get this -- a small, luxury electric vehicle by 2013! Well, excuse us for yawning and smirking. . .
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SUBSIDIZED FUELING: For all the condemnation of oil industry tax breaks, let's not forget that green energy so far is one big sunny, windy, bio-smelly sugar baby in recyclable diapers.
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When a charter bus company uses alternative fueled vehicles and adopts an emissions reduction plan, it becomes the greenest transportation company possible
, given the simple economies of scale of motorcoaches.
THE RIGHT CONCEPT:
The YELLOW UNICAB, favored by the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, would be a vast improvement over the traditional Crown Vic cab colonies.
But as is often the case, the chauffeured transportation industry already beats the cab industry in doing this concept one better via the VEHICLE PRODUCTION GROUP's MV-1, to begin production in October in fossil fuel and compressed natural gas versions.
Such vehicles, when properly adapted to consumer preferences and demands, will bring about more efficient and profitable ground transportation. -- M.R.
PERFECT STORM: California operators to fight SFO green vehicle policy; scientist claims global cooling; CA global warming bill would drive business out of state; and it's a cold wet May in Europe.
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Before the for-hire transportation industries get excited about pursuing electric vehicles, consider the fact that they really cannot run on their own. They continuously need INFUSIONS OF GREEN. Americans should pick and PAY for their own vehicles, not subsidize the fantasymobiles of others. -- M.R.
AND SO WHAT? Latest reseach from Business Travel News shows only 3.6% of travel suppliers get rejected for environmental reasons. Maybe the business community is smart and sustainable enough to understand some things the eco-warriors do not. -- M.R.
GREEN VEHICLE RULE NO. 1:
Just because a vehicle is a Lexus and it says hybrid, doesn't make it a luxury vehicle. Sales of the Lexus 250h are LACKLUSTER, but no one should be scratching their heads. We've learned that luxury lesson with the Toyota Prius. You can paint it black, but it's still the same old non-luxury compact.
And does anyone even remember the ghastly CADILLAC CIMARRON?
To qualify as luxurious and green, a vehicle MUST BE BIG, or it's just green. In the zeal to go green, let's make sure the concept of luxury doesn't get downsized to RENTAL CAR COMPACTDOM. Maybe the Lexus 250h should be renamed the Prius Plus? Truth in labeling? -- M.R.
DRILLING FOR DOOM: Amid oil scares, green scares, climate scares, some facts are needed to induce deep breaths. . .
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ECO-SOBRIETY CHECKPOINT: How much did you spend on your green vehicle?! Well, step away from the vehicle please, because you just blew a 15. -- the number of years it takes to recoup the added cost of a Toyota Camry Hybrid.
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CLEAN & GREEN: The American Bus Association reminds everyone today what being green really means. After 40 years of Earth Days, let's dedicate this day to making the world greener by fueling prosperity, i.e. green money in your pocket. How about tax cuts and exemptions for the motorcoach and chauffeured transportation industries -- the real green movers on the planet? Now that would be an Earth Day event worth celebrating.
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LIMOS ARE GREEN:
Group transportation is still the greenest form of mobility around, whether it's two execs in a Town Car, a small group in a limo, or 60-plus passengers on a motorcoach. Let's not forget that the number one source of a cleaner environment for the last few decades has been technology. Of course, such advancement is made possible through entrepreneurship cultivated by economic growth, low taxes, and sensible and fair regulations.
Thanks to technological innovations, engines consume fuel more efficiently than ever before and our air -- at least here in Los Angeles -- has gotten progressively cleaner in the last few decades, despite more people and vehicles. So tell everyone to make a pro-Earth statement: Go Green In A Limousine! -- M.R.
BLACK & GREEN REASONS:
Autoblog.com has an extensive review and photos of the $90,000-plus 2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid sedan, the greener version of the S550.
The reviewer seems befuddled about the reason for such a hybrid vehicle, given its high expense and comparatively lower mileage savings than a Prius or Fusion. As many chauffeured transportation operators will tell you, there is a market among wealthy travelers and corporate clients to be comfortable while appearing green.
Green amenities are more likley to be afforded by the upper-income brackets, so if there are clients willing to spend, there are operators more than happy to collect. -- M.R.
BAUER'S INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTATION of San Francisco has carved out a cutting-edge niche with its Wi-Drive WiFi equipped luxury commuter motorcoaches, which are a success among Bay Area commuters wanting to work on the way to and from work while being a bit greener. The service is featured in today's Wall Street Journal under the headline Hailing A Luxury Ride To The Office.
QUESTIONING AUTHORITY: Does danger lurk inside the green revolution? Do certain mandates actually worsen the state of the economy and the environment?
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TABLOID BREAK-UP in Hollywood? Now we thought this relationship was solid, since it so appropriately satiated some of the deepest celebrity desires. . .
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MEDIA EXPOSURE: FOX-TV CHANNEL 25 in Boston has a feature about the Royale Ford Fusion Hybrid L, a luxury vehicle alternative to both the Lincoln Town Car and the Toyota Prius. Dawson Rutter, CEO of Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston, talks about the benefits of the hybrid.
ARE THEY SERIOUS? $7 a gallon gasoline may become a reality in the near future. Why, you may ask?
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GO-GO TIMES FOR GREEN ARE OVER: It’s not easy being green lately, let alone a Toyota Prius. Just like the global cooling hoopla of the late 1970s, the green-global warming movement is finally getting past its “Studio 54” phase, having overdosed on all that carbon on a spoon. . .
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GOVERNMENT MOTORS GANGS UP: Do you have a Toyota Prius or Lexus in your fleet or maybe several? What you should know about the recall. . .
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GOBBLING CROPS: Biofuels could follow climate change as the next green humdinger. . .
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TURNAROUND: Airfares and load factors increase for global airlines, data shows, but total recovery is still in the distance.
BRAKE JOB: Hertz, Avis, and Las-Vegas based ZipCar are temporarily pulling the Toyota Prius from fleets because of safety concerns. Toyota and Lexus vehicles comprise only a very small percentage of U.S. chauffeured transportation fleets. And with the advent of the roomier Royale Fusion Hybrid L, the chauffeured days of the subcompact Prius are numbered. Also, one California legislator reveals his frustrations with Toyota. -- M.R.
BLACK TRUMPS GREEN: Finally, going green, or at least meeting and talking about it, could be a big boon for the limousine and chauffeured vehicle industry.
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SYMBOLIC SNOWSTORM: Given the scandalous revelations of distorted data on so-called climate change, you have to wonder if the heaviest snowfall on the nation's capital in a century is supposed to mean something, as in a final burial of global warming mythology and accompanying green legislation.
How appropriate that the legislators most zealous in pursuit of green-related legislation in the name of avoiding climate catastrophe can't even get to the Capitol to legislate because of. . . record snowfall. How appropriate that the only vehicles able to function in such a cold climate are the four-wheel drive SUVs so vilified by global warming theorists and mystics. Once D.C. shovels the snow off the roads, it will be time to shovel the green political grime left behind. -- M.R.
NEW COLUMNIST/BLOGGER: LCT welcomes Jae Morey, vice president of CheapLimoRates.com, as a guest columnist to discuss issues and challenges facing the chauffeured transportation industry. His first column is below.
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WE LINK, YOU DECIDE:
13 is not a lucky number, but herewith are some interesting points about ethanol
, which should spur some questions.
NEW BLOG: One industry blogger has addressed the "third rail" of green politics, namely, the issue of counting your carbon.
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Steve Edelmann, director of sales at Royale Limousine Manufacturers in Haverhill, Mass., is taking the Royale Ford Fusion Hybrid L on a meet-and-greet-and-drive tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles next week, with plans to meet with operators in SF on Monday/Tuesday and in L.A. on Thursday/Friday. He then heads out to the International LCT Show in Las Vegas by Sunday. But on Wednesday, Edelmann takes the QVM Ford-certified Fusion Hybrid on the 400-mile/8-hour trip down the coast between the two cities. [TIP: Take the 101 so you can stop in Santa Barbara].
This is a chance for operators interested in seeing the extended hybrid livery sedan in action. It is the first viable black livery sedan to hit the market that combines the gas mileage of a compact (41 mpg) and plenty of legroom (extra 6 inches). With California being among the greener states, this vehicle should get a globally warm reception all the way around. Those interested in meeting Steve and the Hybrid in either city or along the way should contact him at (978) 771-6466 or email@example.com-- M.R.
CONCEPT TO LIMO SEDAN?
Cadillac debuted the 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum concept sedan, with plug-in/hybird features, at the Detroit Auto Show recently. As one of the two leading manufacturers of livery vehicles, all eyes are on 2012 when Cadillac could release the successor sedan to the DTS and DTS-L. Ray Bush, Cadillac professional vehicle program manager, said in a statement: "We are very excited about Cadillac's future. The XTS is a very realistic concept vehicle." A concept vehicle is called such since certain mechanical details and/or amenities could still change before a final production version is built.
MORE PHOTOS OF CADILLAC XTS PLATINUM HERE.
As the chauffeured transportation industry awaits official word of sucessor models to both the Lincoln Town Car and the DTS, Cadillac is certainly dropping some heavy hints in order to build buzz toward the day when it releases the final version of its new model. Ford so far will officially say only that the Lincoln Town Car is planned through model year 2011. If/when new Cadillac and Lincoln livery sedan models are announced, possibly within a year or two of each other, the chauffeured transportation indusry will take one big buying leap into a new generation of workhorse luxury vehicles. -- M.R.
Delivers the final verdict
; the Lexus 250h is a costly, overglorified compact Toyota Prius. Operators looking for green should beware.
VERY EUROPEAN: The insatiable appetite for all things green, despite the recent Climategate scandal, expands unabated, with a stretched Vespa looking like a possible alternative fuel livery vehicle.
It would be ideal for transporting clients in the narrow streets of European city sectors, villages, and towns, while being obviously green with its fuel economy and spare emissions. So why not mandate it for all Congressional reps, staffers, and federal workers who use chauffeured transportation in D.C.? Such a policy could actually grant some credibility to the global warming believers and cap-n-trade advocates ready to radically remake the U.S. economy. -- M.R.
GREEN & PRACTICAL:
The Ford Fusion WINS ANOTHER ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD
for its low price, fuel savings, and overall practical good looks. Royale has EXTENDED THE FUSION
, making it the first viable green livery sedan that offers savings and space.
CLIMATE CIRCUS: Check out the latest amusements from the global warming Oh! Zone. . .
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ETERNAL EMISSIONS: The specter of man-made global warming is morphing from speculative science into tawdry mythology, given recent developments.
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BUT NOT LEAN:
The notion of having to make sacrifices to go green should remain taboo. Anyone who says otherwise is just thinking in a warm, little global box. For vehicles, EXPECTATIONS REMAIN HIGH
WELL, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? You can put lipstick on a pig. . . in this case, use a Toyota Prius platform and dress it up as a Lexus, but you still get the same below-chauffeured standard comfort, ride, and legroom. THIS REVIEW CONFIRMS why the industry should keep its comfort standards and not sell out to Avis-worthy compacts. -- M.R.
What is so "baffling" about the LATEST REPORT
on global warming which shows it has stalled? What should be baffling is how many gullible people fell for this catastrophe hype despite ample scientific evidence contradicting the man-made global warming mythology. Even more foolhardy are those green "faith-based" believers who worry about climate change, hector eveyone else about it, and actually fork over money to buy carbon credits. Let's get back to making life greener -- via economic policies that put more greenbacks into businesses and households. -- M.R.
HYBRID HIGHWAY: Is looking a bit greener, with the stamp of approval from Consumer Reports. The Ford Fusion Hybird made a splash at the LCT Eastern Conference last month, with Royale's stretched version. This appears to be the first livery vehicle that combines enough legroom wtih significant mileage savings. The CR review also praises the Prius, which is fine for commuters and consumers, but we all know is a non-starter in the luxury/livery category. -- M.R.
BLACK & GREEN SCENE:
A positive auto review in The New York Times of the Mercedes S400 Hybrid -- the green version of the ultra-luxurious S550 -- cites the fact that its downsized engine coupled with hybrid technologies actually delievers mileage savings, as opposed to the piecemeal approach of competitor vehicles.
In this case, giving up a V-8 for a V-6 is a worthwhile tradeoff when coupled with hybrid technology that saves on gas and emissions overall. -- M.R.
As alternative fuels and green vehicles vie for future market share, consumers and business alike should STAY CURRENT ON THE FACTS
CHAUFFEURED FUTURE IS HERE: At least in the San Francisco Bay Area, where operator Gary Bauer's Bauer's Intelligent Transportation is wowing clients with the cutting edge combo of: 1) Greener group ground transportation; 2) Technical offerings and conveniences that make a bus ride better than a plane trip. LATEST PROFILE HERE.
LEXUS IS TOYOTA:
You won’t forget that with the THE LEXUS HS250h
, which is getting a lot of attention for its clever combo of green and luxury. Now we find out, the cuddly Lexus hybrid is basically a Prius platform all gussied up with a luxury makeover. That’s wonderful for commuters and consumers looking for a touch of class. And while we haven’t heard yet of any 250s joining black fleets, need we say that for the purposes of the chauffeured transportation industry, it all boils down to legroom and wheelbase. If the 250 is a Prius on steroids, then we at LCT can only say — no can do, not a limo, off with its livery head!
Here’s some advice to Toyota, courtesy of what has worked in chauffeured transportation: It’s all about the stretch. You take a Ford Fusion, a Town Car, a DTS, and stretch it just a few inches, then you are that much closer to the luxury, livery standard. Bank on building big. -- M.R.
ADOLESCENT GROWS UP: We’re referring, of course, to green chauffeured vehicles. . .
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BLACK&GREEN: Here is another example
of how improving green technology can be adapted to luxury vehicles. If an S-Class hybrid Mercedes gets about the same mileage as a diesel version, then there really is no excuse for small, green livery vehicles. -- M.R.
NOT NICE TO SAY I TOLD YOU SO: So, we'll just let the facts speak for themselves on why the Toyota Prius will get kicked to the curb as a chauffeured vehicle.
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ROYALE HYBRID: Royale Limousine Manufacturers is getting more attention for its Ford Fusion Hybrid L model, stretched to make more legroom. Royale is helping set what should become the prevailing standard for green vehicle comfort and amenities: NO SACRIFICES.
ROYALE NAILS IT: Instead of blindly trying to justify a compact hybrid as a luxury vehicle, as some operators stubbornly insist, Royale Limousine Manufacturuers has adapted a hybrid vehicle to luxury tastes: smooth ride, plenty of legroom, and luxury amenities. Plus the excellent mileage and cost-savings. Royale's new hybrid underscores what LCT has said all along: Don't let green zeal compromise luxury. Bye, bye Prius. . .
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TOO SMALL TOO SOON? THIS BLOG POST
challenges the current wisdom on hybrid vehicles. Although hybrid vehicles are certainly relevant, more pointed questions need to be asked: As the roomier Toyota Camry and its hybrid version catch on, will those models eventually supplant the Prius as the go-to hybrid chauffeured vehicle? And will hybrid technological improvements in mid to large-sized vehicles flush the smaller ones out of the chauffeured market? -- M.R.
GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE?
At least you won't have to worry about workers' comp, wage disputes, and rising fuel costs.
GREENING UP MOOCHVILLE? The $4,500 per vehicle Cash For Clunkers program -- you know, the one funded by us taxpayers so all those desperately needy people in bread lines can swap their old pick-ups and gas guzzlers for, um, new ones -- looks to be an environmental flop. The money spent on this skunker is greener than the results.
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GOING GA-GA GREEN AGAIN: Every time a new breakthrough is heralded on the green front, we are led to believe a thousand green pastures are about to bloom.
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WHAT WILL REALLY WORK?
Toyota's technology chief goes off on plug-ins and E-85 vehicles
. Many comments follow.
EATING IT UP:
Turns out hybrid vehicles are a lot like fat-free foods; consumers are tricked into thinking they can have more of them since there aren't as many calories, aka carbon footprints. THIS STUDY PROVIDES ONE OF THOSE A-HA MOMENTS
. Which explains why fat-free foods really don't cut much fat and hybrids don't save much, if anything, on gas and carbon. But then what would those Visa ads tell us? Striking a pose -- Priceless. -- M.R.
Flex-fuel vehicles appear to be unstoppable, but there's GROWING DEBATE
about whether the ethanol blends damage engine systems. Environmentalists and the auto industry offer varying assessments.
Some helpful data here
in understanding energy choices, options, and alternatives facing the U.S. transportation system. Stay informed.
LIMO FOR LAUGHS: What's wrong with this picture? If you think "That's not a limo," then you still understand what the chauffeured transportation industry is really about. The only question: Will the Tata Nano replace the Prissy Toyota Prius as the impostor chauffeured car du jour? Nano, Nano -- NO!
GLOBAL WARMING RATIONALE COLLAPSING?
Much of the green energy and green vehicles movement so far has been driven by the hypothesis that the earth is warming at an alarming rate and everyone must radically alter their modern lives, i.e. what you drive, to stave off its worst effects. Now, there is clear proof that scientific data contrary to carbon-generated warming HAS BEEN SUPPRESSED
, which of course begs the question, WHY? So, once again, something just isn't right with the global warming motivator. What that means for operators and small businesses nationwide is that the alarmist environmental impetus to "greenify" a business is fading. Green decisions should simply be based on prudent cost/benefit analysis that encompass vehicle efficiencies, energy savings, and the more intangible public relations value. Be careful and skeptical of talk of carboon footprints and credits. Ask lots of questions and do your due diligence. -- Martin Romjue
Who says hybrid technology must be confined to small cars and that the chauffeured transportation industry must settle for less? Mercedes unveils its hybrid version of the roomy S550 next month. One of the first reviews of the vehicle has just been published
FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT:
This dreadful "winning video"
very likely will not do the trick in persuading more people to recycle and go with E-85
. It's all about the message. . .
FUTURE LIVERY VEHICLE? The BMW 730d proves luxury and green can make for a good horse and carriage.
BUT. . . the $200,000 price tag puts it out of reach as a profitable vehicle for most US operators. Which is why I use the qualifier of "future."
The BMW 730d may be available now, but technology needs to continue evolving to make this concept more affordable. Greener, sophisticated luxury vehicles are on the right path but still have a long way to travel to achieve the right economies of scale for operators.
Until then, the more vehicle choices, the better. CLICK HERE for article. CLICK HERE for photo gallery. -- M.R.
NOT THE RECESSION:
The cap and trade scheme
being cooked up this week with green zeal would decimate American economic growth. Despite contrary scientific evidence
that refutes man-made global warming, the unreliability of global warming data measurements, and lack of cooperation from mega-polluters China, Russia, and India, the cap-n-trade crowd doesn't want facts or freedom
to get in the way. -- M.R.
As I've written in LCT before, first-generation luxury hybrids such as the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid are a decent start -- a template for future advances in the green luxury vehicle market. The writer of THIS REVIEW
claims there are more cost-effective ways to save the planet than driving the Escalade. Well, technically, yes there are. I suppose we could all ride bicycles and live in wigwams powered by solar and wind. But the key to being green is to find energy-saving alternatives that DO NOT compromise our quality of life, products, comforts, and amenities. Capitalist consumers should continue to expect and demand the best as the world turns green. -- M.R.
ON GLOBAL WARMING THEORY:
Nothing like a BIG PICTURE VIEW
to stir the pot on a Monday. And something to consider before counting carbon credits, buying carbon offsets, capping and trading, and glorifying every green-labeled vehicle being hawked, whether it's truly an energy/money saver or not. -- M.R.
For more information on E-85 vehicles, please consult this resource
. LCT Magazine strives to be an informational industry platform for a diversity of chauffeured fleet vehicles.
Nothing new here, but at least a reaffirmation that comfortable, safe, quality group ground transportation has a bright future, regardless of immediate economic concerns. Both greener vehicle engines along with the promotion of group luxury travel as a green concept capture the potential of both the chauffeured and charter transportation industries. . .
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PORSCHE UNVEILS NEW HYBRID:
We've noticed Porsche promoting its hybrid version of the 2010 Cayenne S. We at LCT are curious: Is this a viable livery vehicle? We know it's expensive, but would either the gas or hybrid versions have appeal to enough high-end clients to make it worth adding to a fleet? Do you know of any operators who have them?
More information about the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid at the LCT DRIVING GREEN CHANNEL. -- M.R.
DON'T WRITE OFF THE GAS GUZZLERS JUST YET:
An experimental electric Hummer H3 supposedly gets better mileage than a Toyota Prius. This could be a good sign for evolviing green technologies that may some day sustain large, luxurious vehicles.
Let the industry create a new category of livery vehicles: BBGs:. Big Black Greens. -- M.R.
LABEL IT JUST SO: As anyone who's visited LimoCentric of late knows, chatter about the litte Prius really gets the PC fur flying in some industry slivers, since it challenges traditional chauffeured vehicle identities and roles. But this article actually underscores the positive value of the little Prius -- as a viable and worthy green taxi-cab. (The little Prius also serves as an excellent commuter car and a cost-saving government fleet vehicle (utility checks, social worker runs, mayor-mobiles, etc.).
Most amusing is the wink-wink term "green limousines" used in the headline. Glad the headline writers applied tongue-in-cheek "quote marks," since even they can tell the little Prius is not a serious limo or chauffeured vehicle. But dressed up all in yellow with a driver, let that little Prius rip down any road. -- M.R.
HOPE FOR GREEN LIVERY:
The green vehicles now used for limousine purposes obviously are first-generation and still evolving. But they are worthy templates that point to a better automotive future.
With each passing model year, the vehicles become more efficient as the green-power sustains bigger, roomier models. With private and public sector green technology research set to mushroom in future years, the day will arrive when stretches, SUVs, big sedans will no longer carry the PC-stigma of gas guzzler.
The key lesson in green vehicle investments is: Don't settle for little or less, and never compromise luxury standards. Check out the LATEST INFO on the 2010 Lexus Hybrid 450h. You can also see more on LCT's Driving Green channel. -- M.R.
SWINE FLU REDUX: Latest figures show the public is finally hitting the reset button on global warming myths and hysteria. It's not so bad. Just another reminder that green purchases should be based on economics and energy usage, not long-term weather patterns. -- M.R.
CONGRATULATIONS TO JON LESAGE:
Our former colleague has launched LeSage Communications
, a public relations firm for clients in the areas of green sustainability, the auto industry, chauffeured transportation, ground transportation, travel and tourism, and entrepreneurship. Jon brings a wealth of experience editing, writing, and researching at LCT Magazine and at Bobit Business Media publications. He also developed a specialty in green vehicles and sustainability efforts. You can keep up with him at his new blog
LIMOFFICIENT: Earth Day need not be a source of anxiety — just some benevolent awareness.
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FACTS AFLAME: How do you tell Prius owners they wasted their money on an image, a pose, an aura, a. . . green mirage? Well, you shouldn't, really. Too much rage risk.
Check out the p(r)oof below. . .
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2009 FACT BOOK PREVIEW: LCT Magazine is busy compiling and organizing the results of its annual Fact Book survey, and as usual, a few results defy conventional wisdom. Out of 11 issues that concern operators, guess which one ranked dead last? Green/sustainability programs.
Despite all the coverage of green issues, all the hype and promotion about green techniques, all the emphasis on green vehicles. . . operators aren't too worked up over them. There are numerous ways to interpret this: souring economy puts green issues on the back burner; the public is burned out over global warming drama and hysteria; cap and trade schemes spook the business sector; green vehicles are still too expensive; lower gas costs have taken the urgency out of going green; or, just maybe, a chilling truth is crystallizing like a thickening sheet of ice.
The No. 1 operator concern? Fuel costs. After the speculative fuel price horror of 2008, that is no surprise. So what is the connection between the first and last concerns of operators? Who knows, but maybe a good plan of action for now is for the U.S. to find more sources of oil AND vigorously pursue the development of green luxury vehicles that save on gas. -- M.R.
LIVERY REVELATION: We have seen the light. LCT has discovered that, yes, the Prius can in fact be a limousine.
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CAN YOU SPOT THE TWO FOR YOU? AutosCraze blog has posted the top seven environmentally friendly vehicles. We're not sure why just seven, since we could think of a few more, but it's a worthwhile list. An important caveat: No. 6 and No. 7 would be the only green vehicles on this list that qualify for luxury-based chauffeured transportation. The rest are fine for the motoring public but not chauffeured clients. And of course, the more people get into any large chauffeured vehicle, whether a stretch limo, SUV, limo bus, or motorcoach, the greener the vehicle gets. You don't need alternative fuels to be seen as green. -- M.R.
The latest trial run of hybrid taxis in New York City shows the Ford Escapes have succeeded
without any major problems, and prove durable enough for back-to-back daily runs. This should be encouraging to the chauffeured transportation industry, since evolving green technologies will make larger hybrid and alt-fuel livery vehicles more possible. With the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, the Mercedes R320 BlueTec, and the LimoGreen Town Car now on the market, there is never any excuse for compromising size, space, and luxury in order to look green. -- M.R.
WHY NOT? With a small segment of the luxury-based chauffeured transportation industry embracing the Toyota Prius as a livery vehicle, the relevant question that must be asked: Where does it stop? Or, where does it lead?
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JUST A RUMOR -- FOR NOW.
Black is the second most popular vehicle color choice among consumers, and obviously the first among chauffeured transportation operators. And while this report dispels any recent rumors
, it's not far-fetched to consider that global warming do-gooders might overreach and actually try this stunt. If they can "talk" about remotely controlling household thermostats and "de-carbonizing" much of the electricity grid, then they surely could consider a ban on black vehicles. In this case, going green and keeping the types of vehicles customers prefer must remain a black-and-white issue. -- M.R.
REGULATORY HEAVY HYBRID HANDS: This doesn't look took pleasant for the NYC taxi industry; it certainly must not happen to luxury limousine operators in NYC. Stay up to date and get on board with LBOA, an active, vigilant industry association looking out for you.
BLADDER CONTROL: Ewwww, that's a photo of a Prius bladder. I never knew the Toyota Prius had something called a fuel bladder. But then I never knew the Prius could be called a limo either.
The bladder appears to have caused a few problems. In the zeal to reduce hybdrocarbon emissions, Toyota designed a collapsible fuel bladder that recedes as the car consumes gas. Except, the bladder wouldn't always stretch back at fill-up nor did it register correctly on the fuel gauge.
Not very Depends-able.
Now the third generation heavenly hybrid will have a GAS TANK like all other vehicles. Better to have gas problems than bladder problems?
Anyway, it must be frustrating if an operator is handling multiple runs with a Prius and can't depend on a reliable fuel range estimate. But then, again, why is the Prius a livery sedan? -- M.R.
LCT ALUM LANDS NEW POSITION: Former LCT Managing Editor Jon LeSage will be working with the Limousine Environmental Action Partnership (LEAP) as a communications and research consultant. The press release below. . .
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PRICE OF PRIUS PLUNGES:
Too bad for those who ran out and bought a Prius during the $4-a-gallon gas hysteria last summer; you paid too much
. Priuses and hybrids in general are languishing on lots. Meanwhile, newer, larger hybrid vehicles -- such as ones that would actually qualify as luxury livery vehicles -- are on the way as the technology and diversity improves. Most troubling is the fact that none of the hybrid vehicles lines are their own profit centers for automakers, and some operators have told us they still have to charge a premium above regular rates to clients who prefer hybrid vehicles. Nothing wrong with that as long as a livery hybrid vehicle earns a profit and serves its greenish PR purpose. But as long as gas prices remain affordable, patience and persistence for better green vehicles prove to be the prudent course. -- M.R.
FLEX FUEL & CARD CHECK: These scams are two of the most odious threats to the health of the chauffeured transportation industry in America. Get the facts on these loser trends. . .
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PALE GREEN VIEWS: The American public is increasingly questioning the global warming hype, according to the latest survey results, and becoming more skeptical. Maybe it's the economy making people less stupid?
A recession tends to refocus priorities and render past "imperatives" frivolous. Tell someone facing higher taxes, a halved 401(k), plummeting home values, a shrinking business, and/or frozen or declining pay that, um, you'll just have to pony up even more $$$ to fight global warming? That's something for operators to consider before spending "green" money. An operator should make sure "green" spending decisions are subject to the same rigorous cost-benefit analysis as any other investment, capital expenditure, or supplier outlay. -- M.R.
Here's the latest on LCT's website LCTmag.com:
-Three new important industry channel pages are starting up: Finance & Insurance, Technology, and Driving Green, and more are in the works.
-eTrader will soon be added, and is a great place to purchase and market chauffeured transportation vehicles.
-Visit the website for daily news (especially on Wednesday when the weekly Driving Force e-newsletter goes out, and which has been getting really good in the past month) and regular feature article additions.
-Take the Web Poll and give LCT timely feedback on industry issues of great concern.
-Ask Dr. Limo to cure fleet maintenance and repair problems giving you a headache.
-See photos from LCT events (some cool ones from the Vegas show are up now) and links to all of these exciting upcoming destinations.
-A section on LimoCentric (which you should know something about, being here now).
-Links to important industry associations for chauffeured transportation and charter and tour operators (recently added).
Some of this you can see now
, some will be taking shape soon. -- Jon LeSage
(SUB)COMPACT POSING IN THE SNOW? Oh, I mean limousine.
Whew, I'm so glad this little Prius, err -- there I go again -- limousine, will spare us from all the global warming fallout. You see, those actually are ash flakes in the picture, not snowflakes, since the Earth is burning up with carbon. But I'm curious about the overall environmental impact of the Prius.
Maybe the Prius-fans who insist on calling the subcompact (or is it a compact?) a limousine/luxury vehicle, or lumping it in with luxury chauffeured transportation, should connect with these brave people trying to stop all the global warming. By the way, does Avis offer the Prius as part of its chauffeured drive? It would fit well into their "limo fleet" of Aveos and Cobalts -- M.R.
GOOD INFO SOURCE:
If you're looking for a useful info/news source on the web for tracking what's happening with business green programs visit GreenBiz.com
. It's been around for years and is a warehouse of information on green trends: news, features, blogs, operations, marketing, energy, resources, and other topics. Of particular interest for you might be State of Green Business 2009, which can be downloaded for free. GreenBiz and Environmental Leader
are worth your time for staying up to speed on corporate and government sustainability trends.
On the subject, LCT Magazine has just posted three articles from its first ever green issue that you can click through and read:
-- what's happening with charter and tour industry green programs.
Hurry, Hurry? It's Time to Go Green?
-- going green four ways: reduce, reuse, recover, and recycle
Can You Go Green and Survive?
-- appling sustainability initiatives to secure corporate and group business.
GREEN TESTING GROUND:
Red Oak Transportation of White Plains, N.Y., says it will be using 3,696 less quarts of oil and 288 less oil filters per year because it started using micoGreen filters. This will reduce maintenance expenses 56% this year, according to coverage in Aftermarket Business
. Red Oak chose microGreen convinced it was worth the return on investment. "With many green products, there is a high capital cost that takes years to recover and we were pleasantly surprised to learn this was not the case with the microGreen filter," said Andy Stoppelmann, CEO of Red Oak Transportation. There are many green fleet products being marketed these days, and it's not easy to make purchase decisions tied into your green program and cost cutting reality. The great thing about fleet managers is they're putting lots of mileage onto a small, medium, or large number of vehicles. They're testing them out and learning what works and what doesn't. So, spread the word on what is/isn't working for you, and keep us informed, too. -- J.L.
The Academy Awards will be handed out Sunday night, and it's probably the most important night of the year for LA-based operators. Delivering celebrities to the Kodak Theatre in green vehicles has become an industry ritual. This year, Econation has teamed up with Toyota to promote transporting Oscar lovers in a 2010 revised Prius
. "The entertainment industry is working to influence the rest of the world to use more sustainable options for transportation," said Ben Bloch,
a managing partner for Econation. The question always becomes: "Okay, so Leonardo DiCaprio showed up in a Prius. Did he demand to be switched over to an SUV two blocks away, right after the awards show ended?" DiCaprio is pretty darn serious about the green movement, so probably not, but other Hollywood stars and execs are making this request, according to operators we've talked to. Regardless, the trend looks like it's here to stay, and the same is true for many corporate transportation contracts worked out by travel managers, meeting planners, and sustainability officers. -- J.L.
It's not a big shock, but corn-based ethanol is drying up out there. Corn ethanol plants are constantly closing
, and many hurdles are in place blocking other biofuels made from cellulosic materials like wood and sugar wastes. Biodiesel isn't a clear green solution for bus operators, either. Flex fuel and biofuel vehicles aren't going away right now, but it's not easy to find enough fuel stations, and whether the emission reductions, mileage, and cost per mile is worth the investment remains to be seen. -- J.L.
it will be putting out a battery-electric powered version of its Transit Connect commercial vehicle in 2010. Ford is working with Smith Electric Vehicles, a battery electric commercial vehicle upfitter, to bring the vehicle to market in North America. Is this a passenger vehicle or cargo van? Not clear yet. Click here to see the photo.
In other green news, Peterson Institute for International Economics and the World Resources Institute have issued a report
on the economic impact of green products/services on the economy, including creation of jobs. As the recession unfolds, it appears that a chunk of jobs will go away and another will be created -- green companies being one of them. Perhaps these companies will need transportation services. And will global travel also grow and be an important market segment for chauffeured transportation operators? We shall see. -- J.L.
THAT CHANGING CLIMATE! Why, it's happening every day. While pacing the floor the other night worrying about whether the South Beach Ritz-Carlton will be underwater in 10 years because of global warming, I came across this climate change item that calmed my nerves and gave me hope for a future climate balanced between cool and warm weather. The patriotic dissent of many climatologists can lead to rather intolerant reactions. Chauffeured operators need to be aware of this background drama in evaluating green vehicles, green programs, and green awareness. Cleaning up the air and saving on gasoline through green vehicles is worthwhile and effective. Irrational hysteria only produces green Kool-aid. -- M.R.
CONSUMERS DIG IT:
Despite financial worries, U.S. consumers still prefer green solutions, according to a survey published in Environmental Leader
. With green transportation, 19% think it's important, but 22% actually use it. Recycling is very interesting, too - 87% do recycling even though only 39% think it's important. So it's advantageous to market your green fleet offerings and to educate consumers on your company's green practices - recycling, heat/cooling systems, reducing paper consumption, etc. Most interesting point in the survey: 82% of consumers are still buying green products/services today despite the worsening economy. -- J.L.
SUSTAINABILITY BALANCE: Please click on this map, and see if you can find the global warming. Maybe all those carbon offsets have worked already? Most of the nation will freeze tonight. Bet those folks in Kentucky who've been without power for most of the week would love to overnight in a greenhouse. Even us LCTers in humble Southern California will be dipping down to 54 degrees -- the warmest spot on the U.S. 48 tonight.
This colder than usual winter makes one want to warm up the SUV for 10 mintues, drive out to a log cabin in the snowy countryside, turn on some kerosene lamps, ignite the fireplace, and smoke a cigar with the brandy. I wonder if all the carbon could be credited toward the stimulus package. The more carbon we emit, the more green jobs we need to offset it. -- M.R.
AN LCT SHOW GREEN MOMENT:
A green operator told me about two products he's looking into: microGreen Oil Filter
(which reduces maintenance costs and improves fuel efficiency) and Blade
(a tailpipe filter that reduces emissions). It's an interesting facet of a green program - it's not just buying a hybrid or using less paper in your office. There are more aftermarket products on the market now that can reduce your CO2 emissions, extend your mileage capacity, and improve performance. Exclusive Sedan Service in North Hollywood, Calif., has been getting good results using Blade. Another interesting note: Travelocity has created a Green Directory
, which features environmentally-friendly hotels and destinations, a listing of possible green marketing alliances for your company. -- J.L.
NOT MUCH OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC:
A painful recession serves as what the political left likes to call a teachable moment, and the political right, a clarifying moment. Such is the case with global warming, which in the latest survey
, ranks dead last among the concerns of Americans. Indeed, talk of immiment Venus-like heat while the nation suffers a deep freeze in a protacted recession will not warm the wallets toward carbon offsets, credits, taxes, and other gimmicky granola doo-dads. In fact, one legendary British environmentalist now slams carbon trading
. Which once again underscores our point: If going green involves extra taxes, fees, and hassles, then it's not worth it and doesn't pass the test. Green initiatives and alternative fuel vehicles must follow the same rules as other products and services vying in the free market: They must be economically self-sustainable. -- M.R.
A Concord, Calif. resident wrote a snappy letter
to the editor suggesting that Limousine Liberals start riding in Toyota Prius stretch limousines once coach builders start making them. Well, if they really want one, a small customized Canadian coach builder
first put one on the market more than a year ago. Other than that, LimeLite offers customers a stretched Mini Cooper, and a Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid stretch. Other than that, you can always offer LimoLiberal politicians an airport run in a Town Car, SUV, minibus, or anything else they're perfectly happy riding in. -- J.L.
The Lincoln Town Car is the essential sedan used across the country in all types of ground transportation services: limousine and chauffeured transportation, black car, towncar operators, certain taxi companies, livery drivers, and then there's rogues. It's the foundation of the industry in Oregon and enticed a retired owner
to get right back into the business. When the Town Car goes out of production at the end of the 2010 model year, it's not clear at all what will become the mainstay sedan. Will it be a Cadillac or Chrysler model, or another Lincoln? Will hybrids and alt-fuel vehicles fill some of the void? The sedan must meet certain criteria: it looks good and rides comfortably; it has adequate backseat and trunk space; it will run smoothly and not breakdown at high mileage (up to 250,000 miles) if service and maintenance is consistent; it's affordable (somewhere in the $35K-$40K range); and, there are enough cars manufactured and distributed to be a viable option across the country and into Canada. If it has reduced CO2 emissions, or could be run on alt-fuels without a heavy alteration cost, that would be good, too. Let's see how this wish list goes. -- J.L.
It's a car! No, it's a truck! No, it doesn't fit in either category. And it's a hybrid
, too. President-elect Obama will be driven to his inauguration in this new Cadillac limousine, and it's the first time that a president's limo isn't a stretched version of a current Cadillac car model. It's been customized to protect the president from terrorist attacks with run-flat tires, bulletproof glass, and a completely sealed interior to ward off a chemical attack. It's also luxurious: a 10-disc CD player and hand-stitched leather interiors, plus other accouterments.The Secret Service is not giving out all the secret diagnostic info on the limo, but did release this photo, taken along the Potomac River. -- J.L.
DETROIT ROCK CITY:
Hybrids and electrics are the center of attention at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Environmental Leader put together a summary
of green offerings, including the Honda Insight, Chevrolet Volt, 3rd generation Toyota Prius, and Ford's plans for upcoming model years. The Big 3 (especially GM) have been emphasizing hybrids and AFVs in its media coverage and promotions, as have major foreign automakers (especially Honda, Toyota, and Mercedes Benz). When the alt-fuel vehicle movement began right after federal environmental legislation was adopted in 1990, it was full speed ahead until the mid-1990s, when affordable gas prices and the mass market production and discount offerings of pickups and SUVs took over Detroit and moved Toyota and other automakers in that direction. It's more than ironic to see Detroit and the global auto industry in an economic vice grip, but this time, green vehicle offerings are the primary focus. -- J.L.
EAST COAST UPDATE:
Eleven Northeastern states are discussing a "Low Carbon Fuel Standard" aimed at carbon reduction in vehicles and buildings: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. These states "hope that the new standard will push companies to develop cleaner fuels and related technology in order to comply with the standard," according to the AP
. And in December, California adopted a similar plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. These regulatory issues are still being pushed in many states regardless of the economic recession. This is why Green Ride Global, Limousine Environmental Action Partners, and LimoGreen have become important to chauffeured transportation operators. Corporate travel program requirements and public interest have also motivated operators in all ground transportation sectors to go green and tell their stories. -- J.L.
About 85% of travelers consider themselves environmentally conscious but expect travel service providers to be "good stewards" of the environment in which they operate, according to a recent YPartnership survey
. This means that travelers don't want to pay more or make sacrifices for green causes, but expect travel companies to do that for them. This would include ground transportation companies. This linked article from Environmental Leader lays out some of the problems travel service companies are having while being good green stewards, such as participating in carbon offset programs. Carbon offset allows a company to trade carbon emission credits with another company instead of reducing its own emissions. Carbon reduction is a real solution being integrated and practiced today by many transporation companies. So, a pragmatic strategy for operators might be to carefully track CO2 emission reductions and get the word out to customers, media, and the local community. You'll be considered a good steward. -- J.L.
GREEN HERE TO STAY:
U.S. hybrid petro-electric vehicle sales were down 53% in November from one year earlier, while overall auto sales were down less: 37%. Environmental Leader reported this story.
Obviously, rapidly dropping gasoline prices and recessionary panic motivated consumers to back off purchasing hybrids when they can spend less on the acquisition of something else. Automakers and dealers are offering tons of deals these days, so why spend a little bit more on a hybrid? Does this mean the green movement is going away? No, it doesn't.
There are two reasons for this perspective: one is that the economy is in deep trouble and everyone is open to embracing something that might work, including GM and Ford investing in and marketing green products. The green economy (which affects autos, home building, offices, lighting, heating, etc.) is expected to create lots of jobs in this country and business opportunities. And many corporations have built in green practices for purchasing and travel procedures. Another reason why this won't go away: Americans want to conserve and spend less, and get the most out of their dollars. (Does this remind you of people who lived through the Depression?) Green practices, including driving (or being driven in) hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell, and alternative-fuel vehicles, are part of living within their means. -- J.L.
GLOBAL WARMING DISSENT: If dissent is truly patriotic, then let us indulge some more skepticism and subversion on global warming hysteria, especially as the northern half of the U.S. glosses into a massive ice-over. . .
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UNAFFORDABLE, IMPRACTICAL LUXURY:
We don't know of any operators who rent out a Bentley -- yet -- but even the highest of the high end is going bio-chic, as in ethanol and other fuels made from our food supply. We at LCT have an overt hostility to bio-fuels. The spectre of rich clients and royal families floating along in Bentleys supplied by the foodstuffs of lesser mortals really rubs us raw. This auto green blog
makes a good point about clean diesel as a more sensible option. Mercedes (www.MBUSA.com
) has hit upon the right formual of clean diesel and low-emissions with its Mercedes R-320 BlueTec
model, new for 2009. This ideal vehicle for livery will be reviewed in the March issue of LCT Magazine. -- M.R.
GREEN & LEAN: No two words will better describe the trajectory of chauffeured transportation in the next few years; the combination of green and economic pressures will squeeze operators increasingly toward the motorcoach business.
In fact, this blog entry sums up the advantages and appeal of big buses. While we think counting carbon footprints is silly, the much more substantive reasons for eco-busing stand: reduce consumption of oil, clean up the air, take more vehicles off the road, and promote the safety and ease of group ground transportation.
Look for the private sector to seek out motorcoaches for both corporate and recreational transportation needs. It's cheap, comfortable, and chauffeured. -- M.R.
After a painful bout of hyper-inflation for gas this year, the ensuing credit collapse, and the dunking of the Detroit 3, we very likely will see a permanent shift in vehicle preferences. The three factors just mentioned only strengthen the market for greener vehicles -- luxury and everything else. More evidence here
. -- M.R.
NO, NOT THE UGLY CAR: The climate experts! Once more, we see a news report about some unusual evidence of climate cooling. What should arouse our skepticism is the seemingly knee-jerk qualifier that always crops up in these type of climate accounts. . . .
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Mountainbikers, hikers, and outdoor recreationists are a potential new market for greener livery, given the growing popularity of eco-vacations and eco-tours among members of Gens X and Y. One Colorado operator
has capitalized on connecting clean ground transportation with the even cleaner pursuits of biking and hiking. -- M.R.
MY HOW THINGS CHANGE:
The Los Angeles Auto Show
is considered the first major auto industry event for the new model year. It used to be in January, but ever since being moved to November, it's competed less with auto shows in Detroit and New York and has provided a first-look at cool new stuff. The irony this year is that GM and Chrysler gave it a thumbs down, and Ford was the only Big 3 manufacturer to attend and show its cars. The Detroit automakers must keep their costs well trimmed, so it's not surprising they stayed home. Another interesting part of the L.A. Auto Show is the central focus on green, altnernative-fuel vehicles, even as auto sales plummet down and gas prices go the same route. -- J.L.
NO HOPE LEFT FOR LIVERY?
The Obama-inaugural-mania appears to have consumed available chauffeur and livery vehicle services in the greater Washington, D.C. area. A DCExaminer.com
article interviews Richard Kane, CEO of International Limousine Service of Washington, D.C., and Richard Alexander, owner of RMA Limousine in Rockville, Md., about the avalanche of requests for high-end luxury vehicles. That's good for chauffeured transportation, but politically speaking, does anyone from the incoming Obama adminstration or its ranks of supporters care to pedal into D.C. on a bike? Wouldn't that be making a positive green statement? For a political clique that seems so serious about going green, they sure don't hesitate to ride around in the black. -- M.R.
SUPREME LIMO: No limousine operator should ever feel self-conscious, or beyond hope, about vehicle fuel consumption when compared to this heavily-fortified piece of livery. Details are emerging about GM's new Cadillac limousine for the President. The stretch is about as un-green as possible, although its occupant will be relatively green given his minimal political experience. So although President Obama won't be riding in a green vehicle, he will no doubt reaffirm his green credentials by groping for more green from taxpayer wallets. -- M.R.
The "green" movement is not going away, even as the recession deepens and gasoline prices continue dropping. Corporate accounts are pushing less for hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles, but it's not going away. In fact, the green movement is expected to be an expanding part of the U.S. economy that will add jobs, technology, and innovative services while other industries slide downward. This will come through greening up buildings and houses, C02 reduction programs, recycling programs, and more green vehicle options. General Motors is basing much of its future on hybrids (especially Chevrolet Volt) and other alt-fuel models, and this is the case with other major manufacturers. In this industry, operators continue to launch green programs, comply with corporate client requests, and learn more about how it all works. Take a look at the Hybrid Limo Express website
. This operator went into business in 2007 and was ready to be there for the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission's black car MPG mandate in early 2008. Hybrid Limo Express has established itself as NYC’s largest fleet of hybrid vehicles (200), comprised of hybrid Lexus RX400s, Toyota Camrys, and Toyota Highlanders, according to the company. And there are other operators continuing to do quite well during the economic downturn. It's a valuable market niche that faces economic challenges like everything else, but will be alive and well going forward. - Jon LeSage
REDUCTION MUCH BETTER:
There's a good article
in an online magazine called Environmental Leader. Becoming "carbon neutral" has been taken on by many companies as their way of not adding to the global CO2 emissions crisis. The problem is: how do CO2 emissions get reduced, not stay at their negative level, which increases every year? As the writer George Ahn says: "Carbon neutrality has become the rallying cry for the industry, and while companies are doing a great job of patting themselves on the back for offsetting carbon emissions and planting trees, let’s not forget the fundamental issue here: we continue to deplete our natural resources and increase carbon emissions and it’s astounding how little is really being done to fix that."
TEMPLATE FOR FUTURE COMPANIES?
was profiled recently in the Times of London
. While the concept of green remains relatively undefined and highly subjective, companies like this one are making attempts to transform and adapt. But the question the chauffeured transportation industry eventually must define and answer with clarity is: When is an operator green enough? What is the future gold standard? What level of carbon emissions is the right balance? There is a perpetual aura of insatiability among environmentalists, with their doomsday warnings and strict demands. Businesses in all industries should be aware of that and take care they don't become enslaved to ever-shifting ground rules and goal posts. -- M.R.
UNDERWHELMING: Check out the launch of a global reservation system for hybrid limousines. Electricar.com may be a great concept with great execution. . .but there is a problem. These fleet vehicles ARE NOT limousines, nor are they luxury sedans like the DTS or the Town Car. Yes, the Lexus 600h almost qualifies, but take a peek in the battery-stuffed trunk and see how many checked bags and carry-ons actually fit. Lost in the spectacle of ga-ga greenery is the emphasis on ROOM. And it goes without saying that the Prius and Camry entries are just laughable. Let's just sell those little hybridette buggers off to Avis and be done with them. If anyone ever shows up to pick you up in a Prius or Camry, then hail a cab.
So here's a proposal: This industry should start taking "hybrid limousines" seriously once the technology can actually SUPPORT a limousine or luxury vehicle. If operators compromise on comfort and amenities in the name of going green, then don't be surprised if the industry loses its luxury reputation. The bargain here is that the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry should only spend time and money going green if it can maintain fleets of big Lincolns, Cadillacs, Hummers, etc. In fact, instead of letting the green gremlins constantly rate us with "carbon credits," let us rate vehicles among the automakers based on "limo credits," or economic and consumer viability. It could be the industry version of Consumer Reports, or a livery version of Zagat.
We may be entering a political era of schmaltzy "shared sacrifice," but we don't have to extend such collectivist crockery to luxury vehicles. -- M.R.
Two previous chairpersons of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission are supporting the federal lawsuit filed by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade challenging the 25 MPG rule that is due to start up Oct. 31, 2008. Howard Harrison sent out this response in Limo Talk National Newswire from current chair Matthew Daus and the original press release announcing opposition to the TLC's mandate.
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One thing that stood out while attending Green Fleet Conference last week: if going green, learn more about ISO. Fleet managers and corporate execs are looking at International Organization for Standardization (ISO) policies, such as ISO 14001, and many are adopting them to build total organization green programs. This is part of the process that Green Ride Global makes available to clients. Several operators have mentioned adapting to ISO compliant practices, including Royal Coachman Worldwide. ISO says that its program helps companies reduce energy consumption and improve their image among regulators, customers, and the public. (See www.iso.org for more information.) --J.L.
What are the most popular green car models these days? Knowing this might help you make fleet decisions and promote green choices to your customers...
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There's a lot coming up very soon: LCT East at the Mohegan Sun, and then right after that, I'll be flying over to Chicago to attend the first-ever Green Fleet Conference
. I'm looking forward to learning more about the fuel and vehicle options that affect operators and will be covering it online and in LCT Magazine. Green Fleet is being put on by Automotive Fleet, a sister publication here at Bobit Business Media. It will mostly be made up of corporate and government fleet managers and auto manufacturers and suppliers promoting their green programs. This should be good - I used to cover that industry and know that fleet managers have been bringing alternative-fuel vehicles into their fleets since the early 1990s and have a lot of experience with every thing you can think about: CNG and LNG, propane, hybrids, hybrid electric, hydrogen fuel cell, ethanol, and in the '90s - methanol. I can't wait - maybe I'll see you there. -- Jon LeSage
LUXURY LIMO BUS:
A Canadian operator adds an emissions-conscious party bus
to his fleet. This one operates with a special filter. It is built by Crestline Coach
. The article doesn't say how this technology works, the amount of emissions reduced, nor if the bus saves on fuel. But bookings are up, so now matter how green, the image sure sells.
Every new car sold by model year 2020 will have some type of hybrid technology, according to a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value
. Gas-electric vehicles will be expanding in new product launches soon - 89 different models are expected to be on the market by 2013. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are expected to only be a small fraction of the market by 2020, according to the 125 auto industry executives interviewed by IBM for the study. The hydrogen infrastructure isn't expected to be in place anytime soon.
Before you buy any green vehicles, make sure it's for the right reasons: Getting more clients, saving on energy costs, and making more money.
is growing about whether the Earth is actually warming or on the brink of a cooling trend. One New Jersey legislator is trying to slow down the global warming locomotive
in that state.
It's all the more reason for chauffeured transportation operators to insist on boosting their profit emissions, while not worrying too much about the carbon ones. Let the scientists keep digging for the facts
before radically changing how industries, services, and economies operate.
If the Earth is actually cooling to the extent some scientists claim, then we may just need more fossil-fueled limousines with fireplaces. -- M.R.
IN ITS TIRES. . . As part of its recent greening efforts, EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services, the third-largest chauffeured transporation company, is using nitrogen to inflate its fleet tires and save on fuel costs and carbon emissions.
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LCT Managing Editor Jon LeSage is looking forward to attending Green Fleet Conference 2008
, which is happening right after LCT East: Sept. 15-16 at Hyatt Regency Chicago. Participants will include corporate and government fleet managers, auto manufacturer fleet sales and marketing teams, and green vehicle associations. Topics include saving money in operating costs, ways to make your facility eco-friendly, and a preview of upcoming green fleet vehicles. This first-ever event is being sponsored by partner publications at Bobit Business Media including Automotive Fleet. The conference presents a great opportunity for LCT to become more knowledgeable about the products, market trends, regulations, and fleet management issues that our readers very much care about. Visit the website to learn more and get info on registering and attending the event, if interested. You can also let Jon know about the fact that you'll be there by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HYDROGEN! Let's hope this highway and many more get built. Today kicks off the Hydrogen Road Tour, featuring a coast-to-coast convoy of hydrogen vehicles from several different automakers.
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Ford's Limousine & Livery Manager Doug Walczak is sending out a letter to the industry on the "black car" MPG rules in New York City, and a method for changing over Town Cars and not having to only purchase hybrids. His detailed letter is presented here and is valuable for operators to read.
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Al Gore's radical rhetoric has reached the point that not even a jug of peppermint Scope can cool it off.
In response to some of his recent tirades, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has responded with a voice of reason
to Gore's unreasonable positions.
As the chauffeured transportation industry and limousine manufacturers weigh green alternatives, they must seek out and support those moderate, economically viable approaches to developing diverse energy resources while cleaning the air and improving gas mileage.
Gore is no friend of this industry, nor much of the energy industry for that matter. With all that hot air and brimstone, we must keep him away from the limousines -- and the forests. -- M.R.
One of the few things that truly infuriates us here at LCT is what we call the Grand Ethanol Scam of the 21st Century. So we hold our noses and link to this press release
to show the abundant misinformation that still exists on ethanol. We've already debunked many of these points in previous posts (just click on the Going Green category). But it cannot be said enough how the American taxpayers, the agricultural industry, and automakers have been duped into spending money and wasting energy on a dead-end alternative.
Ethanol DOES NOT reduce carbon emissions when its production is factored into the equation. Saved mileage is miniscule. Ethanol subsidies distort the agricultural free markets. Corn-growing for ethanol robs and depletes vital croplands. And lest we forget, ethanol takes food out of people's mouths, causing them to pay higher prices, and in Third World countries, also go hungry. This industry needs to be snuffed in its cradle. Its lobbyists and advocates -- shameless tapeworms -- have leeched onto consumers and taxpayers, and bilked us to the hilt. Neither political party, nor the President, has the guts to confront these 21st Century bootleggers and eco-quacks. Thankfully, a growing number of leaders in the limousine and chauffeured transportation do.
This energy extremism must stop. Don't buy ethanol or flex-fuel vehicles. They deserve to be relegated to demolition derbys and then junked forever. -- M.R.
: Sex In The City starlet Sarah Jessica Parker demonstrates the correct Hollywood eco-pose
of late: Getting into a chauffeured Toyota Prius.
Why bother? Why not just drive it yourself? If a celebrity wants pampered luxury for shopping sprees, then just take a chauffeured hybrid SUV or a good old-fashioned limousine.
The Prius certainly can't be all that comfortable, what with all those shopping bags. But then being driven around in a Prius might assuage the guilt of an actress being, well, chauffeured for an utterly superfluous shopping spree.
We suggest Sarah follow the lead of one actor who actually does get it: Larry Hagman
, aka Texas oilman J.R. Ewing of Dallas fame.
He actually OWNS five Priuses, sometimes drives an electric car, and has his Ojai, Ca. estate powered by a solar farm. Hagman lives the green lifestyle; he's no eco-poseur, that J.R.
We're not opposed to celebrities in Priuses; they just need to make sure they talk and walk the green scene. -- M.R.
PROS AND CONS:
The Catch-22 with adding green vehicles is that they cost more, require more specific maintenance, and can be luxury-challenged. However, as more client firms insist on contracting with chauffeured transportation companies that have green credentials, it may be the ONLY way to get business whether the vehicles truly help the environment or not. And whether green vehicles pay for themselves over time through energy savings becomes irrelevant. That's the reality of green correctness. Here's an example of how GOING GREEN PAYS
Operators getting into the green scene might want to see a new web-based publication called Carbon Offsets Daily
which has a slogan: "For business leaders to keep current with a fast-moving marketplace." Today there's a link to a New York Times story about a Cambridge, Mass-based travel company called Elevate Destinations that offers eco-friendly honeymoons. It's amazing how much this green trend is spreading out so quickly.
HALLOWED BE THY HYBRID?
That's been the green mantra about hybrid cars, but yet another study
at least questions whether most hybrid vehicles can save owners money. Chauffeured transportation operators need to proceed cautiously and focus on these key questions: Does a hybrid vehicle purchase make financial sense? What's the point if maintenance costs outweigh or cancel out the fuel cost savings? Is the public relations payoff and good-green housekeeping seal of approval enough to make fleet hybrids worthwhile? That's obviously an individual decision for each operator based on economics and customer demand. Putting up with costly hybrids may be worth getting those corporate contracts that insist on green products and practices -- whether the green stuff really helps or not. -- M.R.
"Carbon footprint" is a phrase you hear people say all the time, and read in green fleet stories. Is it a good one? Does it make sense? As the New York Times says, "In some ways carbon footprint is not an especially good metaphor." Read on
for more on the subject.
The Jaguar XJ Diesel once again ranks as the greenest luxury vehicle
in the United Kingdom. For a review of the Jaguar XJ Diesel, click here
Aside from a few stretch limousines
, Jaguar has yet to make many inroads into the U.S. livery and limousine industry.
The latest reports from the U.K. show a gallon of diesel costs about $9 a gallon. What takes the edge off that price, however, is the fact that diesel gets better mileage than gasoline.
As Americans fume about $4-$5 a gallon, the greening effect of pure black diesel looks increasingly like a viable alternative. Compared to the diesel vehicle wave of the late 1970s, current diesel engine models run quieter, burn cleaner, and accelerate without hesitation.
And while $5 a gallon gas seems unthinkable, Europeans survive -- and profit -- with much more expensive gas and diesel. -- M.R.
BRIGHT LIMO FUTURE?
Limousine operators with growing revenue usually go to industry shows to look for minibuses, vans, coaches, SUVs, sedans, hybrids, and alternative-fuel vehicles, but not so much for stretch limousines these days. Teenagers going to proms and other kids out for concerts and nights on the town are not too concerned about getting a green car or a corporate bus. They'll take a party bus, or a super stretch, or a traditional limo as long as it's packed with blasting audio and bright shining video. So maybe stretch limos aren't going to go away for good. As Ed Kahakauwila, president of LA Limousines in Victoria, British Columbia just told a newspaper reporter
, "It's still the splurge for kids. Green just doesn't register."
GCLA AGENDA: A lot of ground was covered and many issues highlighted at the monthly Greater California Livery Association meeting last night near LAX, but as is often the case at such events, the cocktail conversation proves more insightful and delicious. We will get to the serious stuff a bit later so we can troll through the Hollywood goodies gutter first.
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STRAIGHT TALK: The more we hear and see of greening efforts, the more we must conclude that this industry definitely does not suffer from Prius envy. The CEO of Royale Manufacturers offers a much-needed antidote to the Prius bubble. This is a welcome follow-on to Dav El CEO Scott Solombrino's recent branding of carbon credits as a "flim-flam." Operators need to get mean about green, and not accept every fad that comes along. -- M.R.
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Some "luxury limousine" companies doing business in New York City are going green, although they don't have to.
New York-based Town Car International is one of those companies, said Russ Cooke, CEO. Along with office greening, the company is implementing New York City Taxi & Limousines Commission guidelines. Although it doesn’t belong to the “black car” category; it is alternative-fuel vehicles including natural gas vehicles, hybrids, and bio-fueled vehicles; suggesting shared rides to clients when appropriate; and, using directional and tracking GPS units in all vehicles to improve usage and travel time, Cooke said.
Avoiding the mandatory purchase of fleet vehicles that get at least 25 mpg is a relief for "luxury limousine" operators. "Black car" operators are seeing the other side of the coin...
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FUTURE LIVERY PREFERENCE?
Consumers are showing more interest in Cross Over Utility vehicles, such as the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, than in larger SUVs, according to a survey by NADAguides.com
. What does this mean for chauffeured transportation? If consumer preferences translate into a demand for comfortable CUV livery vehicles, then that means chauffeured transportation companies can buy slightly cheaper vehicles with better mileage. The big question is whether CUV livery vehicles would be perceived by clients as luxurious.
GREENER CARS & POCKETBOOKS
: We at LCT must admit to getting a bit dreamy sometimes about a green world: plenty of trees and grass, lots of greenbacks stuffed into our wallets and bank accounts, and big, comfortable limousines devoid of any energy connections to the Royal House of Saud
So amid per gallon gas prices headed beyond $4, and $130-plus per barrel oil, the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry needs to keep track of ongoing technological progress on the alternative fuels front.
The higher costs of fossil fuels and accompanying rational cost-benefit calculations soon will outweigh any global warming fears as the impetus to greener livery vehicles. So herewith is an installment about clean diesel
as part of the ongoing story of the world's energy transformation. -- M.R.
HYBRID HOT AIR? A study claims the per mile energy costs of most hybrids exceed those of perennial stapes of the chauffeured transportation industry, such as the Town Car, Escalade, and Navigator.
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KNEE DEEP IN THE HOOPLA:
Hybrids get a lot of attention as crucial alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicles, but the savings may not be as strong as first thought. This article
shows mixed results in Toronto. While every bit of fuel savings helps an operator's bottom line, does it justify the additional costs and limited maintenance options for hybrid vehicles? Of course, the "image" of being green may lure "eco-minded" clients, but at what point do they see through it all? Are hybrids all about saving fuel and the planet, or just about feeling good about the INTENT to save fuel and the planet? More B.S. detectors needed here.
HOPEFULLY, IT WILL WORK:
The more gas prices horrify consumers, the more desirable innovative eco-solutions
appear. Cleaner diesel has succeeded in Europe. While biofuels are a non-starter and losing proposition, the Earth Bus
concept could be a welcome option -- provided it retains all the comforts and conveniences of conventional limo-buses.
GOOD GREENS: In Part II of our propane series, American Alternative Fuel LLC answers key questions about the benefits and application of this alternative fuel. Overall, it is among the leading clean, efficient, U.S.-supplied fuels available, and worth consideration by the chauffeured transportation industry. The main concern is the cost of conversion and availability of propane pumps. Chauffeured vehicles travel widely and often and need convenient, accessible fuel.
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PROPANE IS SANE: The trend toward greener vehicles likely will grow, but the bar for admission will rise as well. Not every vehicle billed as green should be pursued as an option. For example, ethanol vehicles are a flop, and for multiple reasons already cited on this blog, likely will fail in the future. But one category worth a serious look is propane. Following is a basic primer on propane vehicles and their potential for future use in chauffeured transportation. More tomorrow.
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SUVs are gas guzzlers - popular with chauffeured transportation clients, but they're only willing to pay so much in fuel surcharges. So, the release of the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is getting a lot of attention from operators. Here's a product review
that might be worth your attention.
FUELING THE FACTS: Increased carbon emissions. Wasted taxpayer dollars. Soaring food prices. Hungry, angry consumers.
Congratulations to America’s energy white elephant and eco-myth. This will be the ethanol industry’s deplorable legacy that has cost millions of dollars and helped breed global misery. A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal simply states the facts.
Any reasonable observer must conclude that ethanol vehicles, and most biofuel vehicles for that matter, are a never-ending boondoggle.
For the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry, the bottom line is simple: Don’t buy E-85 or biofuel vehicles; get rid of the ones in service; and boycott ethanol. There is nothing remotely “green” about it.
It’s time to admit a colossal mistake and put a stake into this subsidized impostor of an industry.
-- posted by Martin Romjue
Edmunds.com has released a new study that highlights
which hybrid vehicles will end up saving consumers money in the long run...
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DIESEL GETTING MUCH BETTER:
Americans used to hate diesel engines, especially back in the 1970s -- they were too loud and fume spraying to be nearly as well loved as they have become in Europe. This will all change dramatically by Dec. 1, 2010, when the EPA requires all diesel fuel sold in the U.S. to meet its Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel requirements. For operators building up their diesel vehicles, especially through buses, this new rule offers relief and something to sell to clients. Visit the Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance website
for more information.
Allaire Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, based in Farmingdale, N.J., and led by president Mike Renehan, is providing a good example to the industry. The company is adding more hybrids to its fleet and using this new logo to get the word out to clients and the community. This lively image should make Allaire stand out more in people's minds, especially those concerned about "green" transportation options, which is definitely a growing trend.
RED, WHITE, BLUE & GREEN:
Pictured is the most popular chauffeured vehicle
in the United Kingdom.
There are many reasons why, but the most encouraging sign is that no luxury, no amenity, and no creature comfort has been sacrificed in this green vehicle.
If Toyota can do it
, why not everyone else? We're curious if the technology and economics would support a stretch version some day.
Even cutting fuel costs by a third could be the key to survival for many smaller operators.
According to Business Travel News, "Two major chauffeured transportation companies are reducing or eliminating fuel surcharges on hybrid vehicles as an incentive to travelers." Click here to read the article.
BEWARE OF BIOFUELS:
As food prices soar, a global backlash is growing against biofuels. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the latest high-profile government official to concede that using vaster amounts of croplands for ethanol contributes to escalating food prices
. One U.N. official recently called biofuels a "crime against humanity
." The biofuel industry cannot sustain itself on the free energy market with normal supply and demand ratios. That's why the industry requires constant subsidies and incentives from governments and taxpayers. Third World countries, which deal with food inflation and shortages unthinkable in the U.S., suffer the most from the diversion of agricultural production to ethanol and biofuels.
Chauffeured transportation operators should take a long, critical look at biofuel vehicles. More sensible options, such has hybrid, propane, natural gas, and fuel cell engines, are in aggressive development. Remember, your average American struggling with high-food costs now pays far more for such basic staples as cereal and milk. Unfortunately, hysteria over global warming has prompted the political zealotry behind biofuel that constricts food supplies and drives up prices. Food banks in the U.S. are being inundated with people unable to cope with rising food bills. Since so many crops are now being used for fuels that really don't reduce carbon emissions when you factor in the energy needed to produce them in the first place, maybe biofuel advocates can try some ethanol on a bowl of cereal or some switchgrass on a morning muffin. That certainly would be comparable to the unpleasant tastes and choices forced upon many consumers worldwide.
Chauffeured transportation companies and their clients should boycott biofuel vehicles and insist on either fossil-fueled cars or hybrids until more usable fuel-cell, propane, electric, and natural gas vehicles are developed and adapted for mass transportation uses.
Is a hungry child worth an elitist, ill-informed, preening eco-statement?
-- posted by Martin Romjue
Whenever we ask operators about using alternative fuel vehicles in their fleets, they inevitably complain about the lack of fuel stations in their area and how to find them. Hybrids are different since they're powered by gasoline engines, but all the rest are tricky - ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas, propane, and hydrogen. (If you're in Iowa or nearby states, you're probably near fuel stations offering ethanol, which is a plus). The U.S. Dept. of Energy offers a helpful site for finding alternative fuel stations across the country. You can search by fuel type, city/state, and zip code. Click here
to check it out.
EARTH DAY TIP
: Navistar International Corp., a maker of trucks, engines, and commercial vehicle parts, offers some examples of how commercial vehicles can go green -- and clears up some misconceptions. Overall, this Q&A
can help the chauffeured transportation industry realize that it is only one piece of the transportation pie, and there is a greater green burden on trucks, public buses, school buses, and other sectors. This is an important point to remember as the chauffeured vehicle segment faces zealous pressure from Yo-Go-Green politicians such New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Singling out limousines and black vehicles as carbon culprits is a cheapshot. Getting multiple people into chauffeured vehicles -- whether fossil fueled or hybrid -- is one of the greenest and safest transportation alternatives available. And it's easy to do -- now.
Rental car companies have emerged as potentially strong competitors to the chauffeured car industry. Today's announcement by Enterprise shows how the industry can quickly adapt and innovate through its economies of scale. Enterprise's green, energy-saving idea
makes sense. Is this something that could be copied or applied by chauffeured transportation companies?
FACTS OF GREEN: Global warming has ascended as the big bogeyman of the 21st Century. The specter of it generates much anguish and soul-searching among governments and industries. Two articles out today, however, help crystallize some of the most relevant issues and questions for the chauffeured transportation industry.
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Y. Fray, the owner of ECO-LIMO in Santa Monica, Ca., has responded to a New York Times analysis posted this week about a backlash against ethanol fuel production. Her posting is an excellent primer on the different types of alternative fuels and how each reduces carbon emissions. For operators considering alternative fuel vehicles and needing some hard facts, please read below.
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See the NLA consumer website, which is called NLAride.com, for prom and wedding tips that you can pass along to your customers verbally and/or in your print or online client communications. Two sets of prom tips – one for teens, one for parents – are posted. In addition to recommendations for choosing service providers, it offers a search engine for identifying limousine operators – NLA members only – around the world.
The NLA is organizing a a communications program to support operator "green" programs. The goals are to broadcast what the industry is doing to be environmentally responsible, and help livery companies and suppliers find ways to proactively "green" their organizations. The NLA started by surveying members on their environmental practices, and received many replies. The NLA is taking this data and questions asked by members to inform members and the public about NLA's goals on this important issue.
BIO-FUELS COULD BE BAD FOR INDUSTRY:
With the push toward alternative fuel-vehicles, the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry must weigh its options carefully. Studies have shown that ethanol-fueled (E-85) vehicles may not necessarily contribute to a greener climate since the energy used to produce and process ethanol cancels out any reduction in fossil fuel usage and emissions. A recent analysis
in the New York Times reports a growing global backlash against the ethanol industry because it gobbles up croplands for ethanol production that otherwise would produce corn, wheat, and other food commodity staples. That, in turn, squeezes food supplies and aggravates food inflation. Before investing in E-85 vehicles, chauffeured transportation operators must ask some tough questons:
1) Do enthanol vehicles actually reduce carbon emissions? 2) Are enthanol-fueled vehicles the most economical route to fuel cost savings and reduction of pollutants? 3) Does the chauffeured transportation industry want to risk a negative image of contributing to high food inflation and possible food shortages by promoting the use of ethanol-fueled vehicles?
Please click the feedback link below and share your insights and experiences.
-- posted by Martin Romjue
BIG GREEN BUSES:
One of the greenest things a motorist can do is to take advantage of limousine, chauffeured car, and motorcoach services. The more people who can comfortably pool a chauffeured ride, the less cars on the road and less money spent on gas. This Web site entry
makes a strong argument for using motorcoaches, which are becoming more varied and elaborate with increased amenities. While still a small segment of chauffeured transportation, buses of all sizes bring tremendous growth potential to this industry. -- posted by Martin Romjue
A United Kingdom livery trade magazine, The Chauffeur, recently picked its best chauffeured car of the year. It's not an American nor European brand. The maker doesn't build stretch models, either. With the use of the Audi A-8 at the World Economic Forum, and with this latest selection, do we see another European trend making its way across the Pond? American operators, take note. This option could save you money. Seat massages are a bonus, too. Read about the British livery verdict.
Cars.com recently ranked American cities based on how many people search online for hybrid new cars. This could provide some insights to operators who are considering green fleet additions, since areas heavy on green cars also might produce more clients intent on renting green chauffeured vehicles. Study and rankings
The elites who gather each year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland will be chauffeured in a car that hopefully will gather market share in America. It's efficient, classy, comfortable, and a bit less "carbony." Check it out here
Before the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry starts spending money en masse on hybrids and ethanol-fueled vehicles, the industry may want to take the long view: What type of vehicle will ultimately be most effective in eliminating the need for fossil fuels, reduce air pollution, and make your company's coffers and surrounding environment greener? A study this week offers insights and encourages prudence. -- posted by Martin Romjue
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The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission will be voting on whether "black cars" are added to the 25 mpg requirement, and may discuss what happens to other categories such as "luxury limousines."
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Here's a press release on what Ford will be doing to advance plug-in hybrid electric vehicles...
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Here are some of the memorable moments from today, Day One of the International LCT Show at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas:
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Mayor Bloomberg’s speech last week on “green” regulations being implemented in New York City has intensely caught the attention of the chauffeured transportation industry. It’s not clear to the major companies whether they have to comply with these new rules and when that will happen. As for now, this is what we’re hearing about the proposed rules:
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