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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.
Toyota's decision to move its US headquarters from its longtime home in Torrance, CA, to Plano, TX, was one of the biggest stories in the automotive industry this spring. With several months since the announcement, more details about the plan have leaked out. It seems that pulling up stakes could mean an even larger shakeup in the Toyota workforce than first thought.
According to Automotive News, Toyota intends to hang onto around 50 percent of its workforce in the move to the Lone Star State. However, even that figure might be optimistic. According to an unnamed insider speaking to AN, there is a fear the actual number could be closer to 30 percent. For comparison, Nissan retained about 42 percent of its workers in its move from California to Tennessee.
The actual percentage making the move is a mystery because Toyota is still rewriting its job descriptions under a single set of guidelines. The changes affect benefits, bonuses and the reporting structure, according to Automotive News, and employees' reactions could play a big role in who decides to go. According to an unnamed worker speaking to AN, the wait is hurting morale. Some people are even applying at the nearby Honda headquarters.
Three million more vehicles can be added to the worldwide tally to be repaired for the faulty airbag inflators supplied by Takata. Honda, Nissan, and Mazda have all issued recalls to replace the bad part, including about 1.2 million of them in North America. NHTSA has been investigating all three companies, plus Chrysler and Toyota, for potentially affected vehicles.
Honda is recalling roughly 1.02 million Civic, CR-V, Odyssey and Element models In North America, built between April 2000 and October 2002. Mazda needs to repair 14,794 units of the RX-8 and Mazda6, and Nissan has 228,000 vehicles in North America to be fixed.
Chrysler is also starting what it calls a "regional field action" to replace the inflators in the 2006 Dodge Charger, according to a company spokesperson. The company says that it has not yet found the problem in any of its vehicles, but it's being done "out of an abundance of caution." The final number of Chargers affected will be announced later this week.