In Town Car’s departure, the genesis of an opportunity

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.
The Lincoln Town Car’s demise could throw open an opportunity for Hyundai.

New York City, Chicago, LA -- the favorite sedan of the livery business is a Town Car.

Land at JFK or O’Hare, and it’s impossible to count the number of black Town Cars rolling down the pavement. The livery business and especially their customers like the large passenger compartment and the sofalike comfort of the rear seat.

But next year, Town Car production ends. Ditto for the Cadillac DTS, a smaller player in the livery business. Operators are scrambling to find a substitute, preferably with rear drive.

One candidate will be the next-generation, 2012 Chrysler 300. It’s a beautiful, upscale-looking sedan, I hear.

Another candidate is sitting at a Hyundai dealership, the Genesis sedan. The car has a look of luxury that is comparable to the Town Car and it is rear drive. The Genesis’ rear passenger compartment, when the specs are compared, is only slightly smaller than the Town Car’s.

Then we have price and fuel economy: Both are attractive. The base six-cylinder Genesis starts around $33,000, and it gets better fuel economy than the Town Car.

Where the Town Car wins is trunk space – about a 5-cubic-foot advantage over the Genesis.

Even so, the Genesis may fit the needs of some livery operators. A luggage rack positioned on the trunk lid could be the solution for those extra suitcases.

The reality is the world is changing, and the vehicles we took for granted will soon disappear. The livery business and its customers will need to adapt.

And, if a Genesis or 300 doesn’t fit the needs of the livery business, there’s always that other choice: a big, black SUV.