Big Apple Makes a Switch, Lincoln Town Car Will Vanish

Towncarinnyc

Though less popular these days, the Lincoln Town Car has long been a staple of New York City's professional class, carrying passengers — or their employers — who could afford the service in style.

Now New York and its mayor have issued a deadline on fleet vehicles — which includes everything from taxis to Town Cars — that get under 25 mpg. On Jan. 1, all new vehicles entering the city’s local car service must have an EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg. That number increases to 30 mpg in 2010 in hopes of doubling the fleetwide average to around 40 mpg by 2017, a move that would cut transportation-related emissions by 2% and overall carbon dioxide emissions by .5%.

The Lincoln Town Car has long been a favored vehicle because of its durability, roominess, luxury and relative low cost (independent drivers pay between $15,000 and $25,000 for a new one), but with an average of 16 mpg in the city due to its heavy frame and a V-8 engine, it doesn't come close to making the city's new fuel economy rules.

This leaves car service companies with a dilemma: What vehicle will replace the Town Car? A New York Times article speculates that a crossover or hybrid could take over. The Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner both clear the mileage bar. At 27 mpg, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 400h could squeak by for another year. But all of these cost more money than a Town Car at fleet rates.

Less costly midsize sedans like the Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima Hybrid would also sneak by. The Prius, an obvious choice because of its high fuel economy, has been derided as having too little space and being too pedestrian.

Before the rule goes into effect, operators have been buying up Town Cars, hoping to delay the eventual switch to more efficient cars. This seems like an odd decision, though, when New York City’s stop-and-go driving seems like the natural environment for a hybrid, and the city has a five-year limit on how long the current crop of 10,000 Town Cars can operate.

What would you suggest replace the Town Car?

Fuel-Efficient Black Cars: A Taximoron? (The New York Times)

Comments 

Bowrider

I don't think the Mariner/Escape are good contendors because of the lack of luxury compared to the Town Car. The Town Car portrays a certain image of luxury and wealth to those who can afford the personal service. Durability is obviously a major factor, but may go by the wayside to meet the MPG requirement. If GM could slightly improve the Enclave MPG, it might make the cut. Or, perhaps the upcoming CTS wagon or Buick Lucerne.

Really, there isn't much that to choose from. It may boil down to the Camry Hybrid.

Chrysler 300 V6 only gets 21 mpg combined.
Same with Buick Lacrosse and Lucerne. Ford Taurus also at 21 mpg.

4 cyl Sonata gets 25 mpg combined as does a 4 cyl Camry. Altima 26 mpg.

But I think rear legroom is going to be important and sense of style.

Maybe an Accord 4 cyl EX-L. because it's bigger now.

That still won't do anything for 2010 and beyond though. There simply isn't anything that gets 30 mpg combined with a lot of rear legroom.

This would is the perfect Oppotunity for Lincoln to get a stretched,plush, formal looking, escape hybrid- built just for livery services, because bowrider is right- neither the Escape/Mariner(or Prius, Highlander, altima, or camry) look luxurious. How dificult would it be to rip out an ES350's engine and put the camry hybrid system in it's place- that would be a great replacement. Plus, if I have money and can afford a car service- I don't want to ride in a relatively loud (Prius, Escape/Mariner)or bumpy (Escape/Mariner, Altima), or soccer momm-ish (Escape, Highlander)

Broq

Jay

These top professionals will continue to use the Town Car as long as Ford keeps making it. The technology on this car is so simple (and outdated) that it makes more financial since to keep using it. Plus the fact that some of these professionals will benefit from the $700B bailout I'm sure they have enough money to lobby the mayor into looking the other way should they try to enforce the rules.

Aaron

Perhaps a Jetta Sportwagen TDI or a Passat TDI?

Price and reliability might be deal-killers, but they should meet the 30mpg standard and have some cargo room. They also have more of an air of luxury than a Camry.

Passat TDI would work...

Jay,
I think it is the other way around. Ford will stop making it when people stop buying it. It is already not fitting with the image that Lincoln is trying to convey recently- they just can't afford to loose their cash cow.

Broq

Paul

Ford should drop a clean diesel into the Taurus/Sable. Higher mileage, lower CO2, huge back seat, huge trunk. Paint 'em all black or rebadge as a specialty Lincoln for the carriage trade.

Bowrider

I'd have to agree with Broq when it comes to enforcing the new rules. I'm sure there will be ways of getting around it. The mayor better be very clear in defining what constitutes a fleet vehicle. What if, for example, someone in New York drives their Grandma to bingo every other day? If it's a private service, vice a city taxi, how can they enforce the ordinance. And, if a fine is imposed drivers might just consider it a cost of doing business and possibly pass the cost on to the customer.

maxwell

One of the reasons the Town Car is popular, like the Crown Vic for taxis, is that it does not fall apart from driving New York's horribly pitted roads.

It's the frame that does it. The New York City taxi industry has tried just about every other vehicle available and has not had great results - far more problems than the big, tough Fords.

By the way, NYC does NOT require such fuel efficiency for its own fleet of autos for officials. The officials just love their Tahoes.

YOING

I've ridden in numerous Town Cars that have had 400, 500 and even 600 thousand miles on them. Seriously, the Panthers are built to last. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of disappointed fleet business who are going to miss them.

Juan Carlos

they have huge trunks, does the altima have a big one?

Cj

All Ford needs to do is put in a clean diesel and an electric motor in the Town Car. Call it the Lincoln Diesel/Electric Hybrid Town Car.


If they are already selling the Town Car for $15K the premium for those technologies ($2000 and $3000 respectively) would only bring the price up to $20,000.


With those changes they could increase mileage by 50 or more percent

Watchdog

So when I go to NYC I get stuffed into a tiny airplane seat with no leg room and now I will get stuffed into a tiny car seat with no leg room! Who is going to pay the premium for a car service if there is no comfort benefit?

And a Passat TDI does not exist for the US market BTW.

johnnyt

another example of over-zealous lawmakers leaping before looking. there really isn't any workable comparable alternative out there. in free capitalist societies the right solutions for the right problems always find each other through nature entrepreneurial means. when well-meaning, but clueless politicians fiddle with the market solutions become fraught with compromises. these cars are going to be replaced with diesel e-classes or not replaced at all. either way this is going to cost businesses plenty; which means its going to cost consumers plenty. if you want to change the market, use market forces, not just plain force. it never works.

Bloke

So we should let the market forces work their way out like they did with the banking industry? I see this as a mix of capitalism and regulation, this is the way things should be. It is not like they are passing these regulations and then telling the taxi companies they can only charge so much. They can either make do with the situation or get out of the business, whereby someone else will come along, and through either ingenuity or innovation will make a buck. There is nothing wrong with demanding improvement. A fat cat will sit back and be lazy if that is all they have to do to reap the profits. If that is all they have to do then there will be no innovation and like many areas of this country, it will not innovate.

Bob

There's an error in the posting. The NY Times article says that USED Town Cars are $15,000-$25,000. NEW Town Cars are about $40,000 or so.

Mart

DING DING! I think we have the answer:

"these cars are going to be replaced with diesel e-classes"

Of course, costs will go up accordingly, but to the wealthy it'll make no difference, and they'll get a nicer ride in addition. Current car services in NYC are CHEAP anyway - It's just as cheap as getting a regular taxi out to the airports, for example. I took a car service for precisely that reason last time i was there.

The perfect replacement would be the London Taxi in the executive version.

It has a proven track record from London.

It is available in the US from here:

www.london-fleet.com

Ian

When Ford brings over the European Mondeo (which has outstanding interior room and is very stylish on the outside) their problem is solved. Until then, Ford should bring in an Eco-boost 2.5 4 cylinder in the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable and let that carry the water.

Mart

the problem with the london taxi is that it is noisy, and the ride is exceptionally rough. Even decked out with a nice interior, it'd be no patch on the Lincoln. It also has hardly any luggage room.

Jay

I like the hybrid electric Town Car only with gas not diesel. They could ride on the electric motor for most of the time in NYC traffic. Plus diesel fuel will get on the driver's hands and clothes and no top exec or professional wants to smell that stuff when they are giving a tip. They will say I can take a regular taxi cab if I want to smell something other than freshness of leather seats.

bikerrich

having recently gotten my own '09 MMH, it needs to be plushier to compete with the town car; i've suggested that ford lincoln-ize the interior or hybridize the lincoln ??z or x, the small suv. alternatively, why not put a clean diesel into the town car and crown vic.; there's plenty of room; and besides, the mb e-320 won't make the mileage threshhold. you gotta keep the town car build, nothing compares, just change the motive system.

CC

Currently you see a lot of hybrid taxis in New York. Ride in them you will definitely noticed the difference to Town Car. Also I don't think the hybrids are built for the daily beat of taxis drivers and NYC potholes, ask any of the hybrid taxi driver when you ride in one, they will tell you what kind of repairs they went through.

Chris

Honestly, the Town Car has been the perfect car for the job. Sturdy frame, lots of room, and very reliable. I would say keep it all the same, just drop in a new clean diesel engine. The Town Car is quiet enough that a new diesel wouldn't even be noticed by the passenger, and it would still provide all the luxury and room that people require. Plus, as diesels get more and more efficient, they would simply be able to upgrade the engine in the future to meet the new standards. Diesels also idle better then gas... and if they went hybrid that would be a huge problem. Many of these cars spend a lot of time idling, and hybrids really aren't made to idle. This is something that they should pay huge attention to when making the final decision.

Chris,
Hybrids don't idle at all- they turn off, thus saving gas.

Broq

I think the knew 2010 Ford Tuarus is roomie and gets better fuel ecomony, maybe not 20mpg in the city but better the then a town car. plus its supporting a domestic car company witch is always good and with knew features like a fatigue massager it seems likely to be a good choice.

Mike

Whatever they decide on, IT HAS TO BE AMERICAN MADE! This transition is a great opportunity to help the environment and help our economy. There is absolutely no doubt that the crown vic / town car is the most confortable and durable taxi out there. Like many others have said, a clean diesel, id it could achieve the milage goals, and be economical, it would be perfect. Also, did it ever occur to anyone that for should have a large fleet sedan that does well on gas anyway? just saying. Get with it FORD, i hope your reading this! :)

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