We are now in a completely different era of stretched limousines compared to just a few years ago.
The Chrysler 300 and Hummer limousines literally changed the way the general public saw the industry as they started to demand exact vehicles rather than ‘just a limo’.
They’ve somehow become experts – knowing their H2’s from their H3’s and their gull-wings from suicide doors. So how does an operator continue to supply what they demand and stay on the right side of the law?
Recent months have seen the announcement that a stretched Hummer H2 can now obtain a Certificate Of Initial Fitness (COIF) – this has taken many years and many hundreds of thousands of pounds to achieve.
However, this is not the only option for an operator who wishes to be bang up-to-date and own a vehicle with the COIF certificate. A number of UK sellers of American stretches have developed vehicles, all managing to clear the Single Vehicle Approval or Individual Vehicle Approval process (SVA/IVA) such as the Krystal Chrysler 300 and Hummer H3 limousines.
There have been some amazing developments within the limo bus market from a number of manufacturers – but can these really pass off as a ‘limousine’ by the client?
Ultimately, the limo buses are vans and minibuses with limousine style interiors. The vehicles used as a base are normally those from Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen which both have the ability to obtain a COIF.
Nick Clarke, managing director of Limo World UK thinks there could be a problem when a ‘converted minibus’ turns up on the customers doorstep.
“Limo Buses are great, however, limousine hire isn’t cheap, therefore, the client is always requiring a lot more in return. Although the interiors of the buses are excellent, and just as good as a traditional limousine, I fear that if I operated one, I would have disappointed customers when it turned up.”
He added; “With the advances of the Hummer COIF recently, it would be a no-brainer to purchase one of these as it is a proven brand and can actually cost the same to buy as some of the buses on the market.”
Obviously, there are ups and downs of each option. Limo Buses have the security of a manufacturers warranty, have great fuel economy and they are certainly a lot easier to drive around tight corners. On the down side, the concept of a converted minibus is still very new and rental charges can be lower than a Hummer for example.
A COIF’d Hummer H2 is obviously a fair size over the limo bus, but it is generally more desirable, rental charges are higher, it still fits the traditional ‘American limo’ label and it also comes with a warranty if bought new.
Nick added; “It can be a very difficult decision if you are replacing vehicles or adding to you fleet. The best piece of advice I could offer is listen to your customers – if you don’t supply what they demand, then it will fail.”
There is also good news for operators who already own an H2 – conversions can now be completed which can bring it up to COIF standards. There is more information on the company’s website at www.limoworlduk.com.