Can Lincoln Keep Limo Market with MKT "Town Car"?
Who isn't happy to see a Lincoln Town Car waiting for them instead of a Ford Crown Victoria taxi?
This days are coming to a close as the automaker gets close to discontinuing the venerable Town Car, the engineering chassis of which technically dates back to the early 1970s.
Ford just introduced a replacement for the Town Car sedan, based on the Lincoln MKT crossover (see gallery), at an annual gathering of limousine and livery car buyers in Las Vegas.
Lincoln plans to build two chauffeur-dedicated MKT Town Car versions in 2012 to replace the Town Car. But trade publication Automotive News reports that some of the companies that buy airport cars and limousines aren't as happy about the MKT as Ford hopes despite the more modern engineering platform and added cargo room in the vehicle.
Gallery: Lincoln MKT Town Car
While the current Town Car is a rear-drive sedan, the MKT airport car will be offered in front- and all-wheel drive. The limo version has a heavy-duty chassis with standard awd and a stretched-wheelbase conversion package that can add up to 10 feet in length.
Dealers are questioning the styling of the MKT for an audience that tends to look for classic sedan styling. Some critics of the MKT, which has not been a strong seller for Lincoln, have said it is reminiscent of hearse styling.
The Town Car, which is known in part for a rugged body-on-frame engineering platform that fleet operators like, has been a unique player in the market. Now, say dealers, fleet buyers will be more likely to entertain other front-drive./all-wheel-drive vehicles from Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.
Lincoln did not list the price of the fleet-converted MKT, but said it would be comparable to a Town Car, which sells for $46,995 including delivery.
If it doesn't go well with the MKT, Lincoln could come back with a fleet-version of its MKS sedan, which is more of a natural airport car than the MKT.