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What happened to all the stretch limos?

Several decades ago, limousines could be found in every major city. The luxury stretch vehicle took occupants to board meetings, penthouses, nightclubs and sporting events. But somewhere along the way, the limousine slowly and then quickly disappeared from city streets in a world now dominated by black SUVs.

The stretch limousine dominated the luxury chauffeur service industry in the 1970s and 1980s. After multiple crashes, the first in 1987, the second in the early 2000s, and the third in 2008, the luxury travel mode he lost his lust for high net worth individuals.

Slowly but surely, the city car became the vehicle of choice in the 2000s. Back then, the wealthy demanded Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Suburban, as well as Mercedes S-classes, while demand for stretch limousines plummeted.

Chauffeur services are now dominated by “black SUVs, buses and vans,” the NYTimes explained.

“The limousine business is no longer your father’s limousine business,” said Robert Alexander, president of the National Limousine Association (NLA).

According to NLA data, stretch limousines make up about 1% of services offered by chauffeur services nationwide, down from 10% a decade ago.

“The limousine is — what’s the expression? — gone like the dodo bird,” Alexander said.

As Alexander pointed out, another factor that contributed to the near “extinction” of limousines was the emergence of ride-hailing platforms such as Uber and Lyft more than a decade ago. These platforms led to an increase in demand for luxury SUV chauffeur services, further diminishing the stretched limousine market.

It’s clear that the limousine industry has taken a drastic turn in recent decades. And the next move the limousine industry is making is toward luxury Sprinter vans.

Matthew Daus, an attorney and former commissioner and chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, explained that the limousine industry has “muscled into the coach and charter industry” after the pandemic .

Long limousines are gone for now, but luxury chauffeur services are still thriving. It’s just that the mode of transportation has changed. And in a country where progressive policies have led to a nationwide crime wave in major metropolitan areas, no one in their right mind would dare drive into a moving target.

Looking ahead, the proliferation of self-driving cars could also wipe out professional chauffeurs in the coming decades.

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