The first limousine built as an automobile hit the road in 1902. The original design of the vehicle had the driver sitting outside of the main cab while still in a covered compartment area. To many, this design looked a lot like the hood of a shepherd’s cloak that was native to the Limousin region in France, which is how the vehicle got its name.
Since the driver was outside while driving, protection against the elements was required. That usually meant a formal overcoat, which led to the development of a “uniform” of sorts for limousine drivers in the future.
The first stretched limousine was built in 1928 by Armbruster, which was located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Its design wasn’t based on luxury. It was a useful vehicle meant to carry a band and their instruments, making it more of a “bus” than a formal limousine.
The following statistics represent FY 2014 for the industry, as this is the last year complete data has been published.
Interesting Limousine Industry Statistics
#1. In 2014, the gross estimated revenue for the limousine industry was about $3.3 billion. That figure is up 11.5% from the year before and continues an upward trend seen in the industry since 2009. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#2. There are currently over 12,000 operators currently licensed to provide limousine services in the United States right now. About 8,300 are licensed as a limousine or chauffeur driver, while the remainder are licensed as a tour operator, charter operator, or motorcoach driver. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#3. Between 2010-20214, over 3,500 new operators were added to the U.S.-based limousine industry. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#4. Limousine manufacturers sold a total of 4,340 stretch limousines and buses, 4,608 sedans, and about 1,500 SUVs or large vans to the industry in 2014. It is the highest level of combined sales in the sector for new vehicles since at least 1982. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#5. There are currently 108,000 chauffeured vehicles currently in service in the United States. The average size of the fleet in 2014 was 25 vehicles per agency. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#6. The average operator within the limousine industry earned a gross profit margin of 20.7%. In 2011, the gross profit margin within the industry averaged just 10%. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#7. 90% of operators say that they use phone-ins to obtain reservations for their limousines, which is part of the traditional white-glove service. 84% note that reservations also come from a company website. (The Washington Post)
#8. With the introduction of Uber, limousine companies are struggling to find the volume of customers they had before 2008. In 2014, 44% of limousine companies in the United States earned $300,000 or less in gross revenues. (The Washington Post)
#9. To counter the changes happening in the industry, 36% of limousine operators are now offering different tiers of fleet or chauffeured services that are priced-based for their customers. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#10. 11% of limousine operators say they provide surge pricing rates all the time. 64% of operators say they never adjust their rates or prices. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#11. The average limousine driver completes more than 100 trips per week with their vehicle (The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
#12. Around 60% of the limousine industry is composed of small businesses that have fleets of 5 or fewer vehicles. About half of the services provided by these operators is reserved for corporate reservations during the week. (The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
#13. 40% of the revenues generated by the limousine industry involve either parties, high school events, or weddings. (The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
#14. 81% of limousine operators in the United States say that they do not have an app which allows customers to make reservations. For those who do have an app, 9% of operators still don’t have a way to schedule planned or future reservations. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#15. 53% of limousine operators say that they have not lost any revenues because of the presence of Uber in their community. 26% of operators say that they’ve lost less than 10% of expected revenues due to the presence of a TNC. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#16. 54% of limousine operators use online directories and scheduling services as the primary advertising source for their business. Social media is used for advertising by 52% of operators. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#17. The biggest challenge listed by limousine operators for their industry is the cost of insurance, a position held by 65% of the industry. In many locations, limousine operators are required to maintain $5 million in coverage on their vehicles. (The Washington Post)
#18. For companies operating motorcoaches, the average vehicle provides 3.6 job opportunities. In 2013, motorcoaches alone employed more than 133,000 people within the limousine industry. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#19. Fleets with the most vehicles tend to also put on the most miles per vehicle in the U.S. each year. The average mileage for the industry was 50,400 per vehicle. For fleets of 100 or more, the average mileage per vehicle was 75,500. For fleets of 2-9 vehicles, the mileage per vehicle was just 36,000. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#20. Business travel spending in the U.S. is more than $300 billion annually, which Chicago being the top meeting destination. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
#21. In total, there are almost 500 million trips projected to be taken in the next year that could require limousine transportation. (Global Business Travel Association)
#22. California is the most popular state in the U.S. for limousine operators, accounting for 16% of the total industry. Texas and New York come next, each with 6% of the industry. (Limousine, Charter, and Tour Magazine)
Limousine Industry Trends and Analysis
Even with the presence of Uber and ride-sharing apps, the limousine industry is still growing. There is a need for the traditional white-glove service in many different sectors of society. From going to the prom to making a positive first impression before a business meeting, the industry knows how to provide a different service that gives them a niche outside of the on-demand services provided by others.
There are still going to be challenges for the industry to face. The strength of the limousine is highly dependent upon the strength of the overall economy. During the recession years of 2007-2009, the industry saw the biggest drop in overall revenues in more than 30 years. As the economy recovered, so did the industry, to the point where it achieved record sales in certain areas.
Limousines have historically been a way to provide safe transportation while offering a luxury experience. In the past, this was more about practicality. Today, the limousine industry is about celebrations and first impressions. If it can continue being strong in this niche, the growth opportunities are expected to continue.