In the automotive industry, it’s known as the “black car” business, and it refers to modified Cadillacs, Lincolns and a handful of other models typically used for livery services at upscale hotels and airports. This is the narrow but lucrative niche General Motors Company is targeting with the launch of its new 2012 Cadillac XTS sedan.
Among the most popular “black car” models in recent years have been the Lincoln Town Car, which has typically accounted for several thousand sales annually, and the Cadillac DTS, with annual sales averaging approximately 1,200 units annually. Both models were eliminated earlier this year.
For the livery industry, Lincoln plans to replace the Town Car with a crossover model, and Cadillac will offer the new XTS. Both models will be modified for the livery business by GM-approved coachbuilders. Modifications typically include the addition of about six inches to the vehicles’ wheelbases to provide additional rear-seat leg room.
Speaking with reporters at a Cadillac event in San Diego last week, XTS marketing manager Patrick Nally said, “A lot of people will not consider Cadillac that buy Mercedes or BMW. They do not put us on their shopping list.” Nally said the black car industry provides an opportunity to “get the right people in the vehicle.”
Once “the right people” are exposed to the livery version XTS’s luxury appointments, which he claims will be virtually identical to those of the retail version, they may consider owning a Cadillac instead of a luxury import model.
The retail version of the XTS will cater to American motorists who demand state-of the-art technology and have a distinct preference for imported luxury automobiles. Nally said, “We will really impress people vis-a-vis the back seats of those [livery] cars.”
The retail XTS will be the largest and most indulgent sedan in Cadillac’s model lineup when it hits dealer showrooms in the late spring or early summer of 2012. Nally says the XTS is designed to compete head-to-head with the Mercedes E Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.
Cadillac showcased the XTS Platinum concept vehicle at the Detroit auto show last January.
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