Business executives and VIPs know it like the back of their hands. The Lincoln Town Car was, seemingly forever, an icon of power lunches and red carpet arrivals.
But this symbol of success and para-exclusivity saw its long run come to an end in 2011, leaving a gap in the workhorse luxury sedan segment. To possibly fill it, Toyota is looking to wedge its upscale Camry, the Avalon, into the void left by the Town Car as the next “black car,” as the Wall Street Journal calls it.
According to a WSJ blog post, Toyota will offer a hybrid version of the Avalon alongside a traditional internal combustion engine model for livery fleets. Squarely in the Avalon’s sites are the Chrysler 300, Cadillac XTX, and interestingly, Lincoln’s own luxo sedan, the MKT.
The 2013 V6 version of the Avalon livery model has a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission, with an EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway, and retails for $31,360.
The hybrid Avalon has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine routing power to a CVT, produces 200 hp, and has an estimated 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway, with an expected MSRP base price of $33,750 for the 2013 model.
The WSJ notes that Toyota says 12,000 livery fleet operations, with 12 to 18 vehicles per fleet, are active in the U.S. The Lincoln Town Car’s departure presents Toyota with an opportunity to capitalize on a segment that saw the large Lincoln sedan capture 80 percent of the mid-size limo market.
Toyota says annual cumulative sales from 4,000 – 6,000 sedan limos per year across the industry.
You can do the math, but if Toyota could realize even half of those sales at between a little more than $31,000 to nearly $34,000 per sale, the potential payoff may be significant enough for Toyota to continue its own aspirations of achieving an overwhelming share of the everyman’s limo business.