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Auto blogSun, 30 Dec 2012 10:59:00 EST
The deaths of the Ford Crown Victoria and the Lincoln Town Car have meant overhauls of three high-profile American fleets: police, taxi and livery car. Just as police fleets are more open to considering other options and a Nissan van is the new face of the NYC taxi, livery car companies are looking at replacements for the Town Car beyond The Blue Oval. Ford, via Lincoln, has made an MKT Town Car (pictured), but an article in the Detroit News claims "it has failed to win over most of the big limousine companies." The upstarts trying to move in include livery and limo editions of the Cadillac XTS, and livery specifications of the Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300.
Each of those challengers, however, faces challenges. The Town Car was a workhorse, American, rear-wheel-drive sedan with plenty of rear legroom. Cadillac has been in the livery space before but with decontented models that were about selling the brand, not its luxury. It is taking the opposite approach with the XTS, pointing out that its livery edition is "contented in the upper half of the XTS range." Still, the CEO of Michigan's largest livery company says "it's quite a bit smaller than what we're used to," and he also prefers rear-wheel drive.
The Chrysler 300 is rear-wheel drive, and American, which matters to some companies, but Chrysler hasn't yet revealed the livery package for it. The livery Avalon marks Toyota's first time getting into that business in the US, a natural step after having done so well with taxi clients and with the Town Car out of the way. Still, the livery client is a different to taxi buyers, so the Avalon could face other soft-touch hurdles.
What would you do if a wild animal jumped into your vehicle through an open window during an African safari? What if said animal was an impala being chased by cheetahs? Though the scenario seems unbelievable, that's just what happened to a group of tourists in Kruger National Park in South Africa, and it was all caught on video.
With the tour groups stopped, a motorist with a video camera handy happens to catch the unlikely sight of a herd of impalas (not that kind of Impala) jumping over the tarmac while being followed, quickly of course, by two cheetahs. The feline predators thought they had cornered one impala and were closing in for the kill when it jumped through the open window of a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado - South Africa's version of the Lexus GX. Fortunately for the occupants of said vehicle, the cheetahs did not follow.
A short while later, one of the occupants in the Toyota fearlessly opens a door to let the poor animal out. It must have been its lucky day, because the cheetahs didn't take pursuit. Check out the circle life get interrupted by this traffic jam in the video below.
At present, over 90 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States today are equipped with event data recorders, more commonly known as black boxes. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gets its way, that already high figure will swell to a full 100 percent in short order.
Such automotive black boxes have been in existence since the 1990s, and all current Ford, General Motors, Mazda and Toyota vehicles are so equipped. NHTSA has been attempting to make these data recorders mandatory for automakers, and according to The Detroit News, the White House Office of Management Budget has just finished reviewing the proposal, clearing the way. Now NHTSA is expected to draft new legislation to make the boxes a requirement.
One problem with current black boxes is that there's no set of standards for automakers to follow when creating what bits of data are recorded, and for how long or in what format it is stored. In other words, one automaker's box is probably not compatible with its competitors.