Welcome to our eulogy for the stretch limousine. (Dims lights, cues “The Long and Winding Road.”)
Once the ultimate status symbol — even if just for a one-night rental — society has evolved beyond the stretch limo. The National Limousine Association says they comprise less than 1% of limo company services today, down from 10% a decade ago.
RIP, but why?
There are a few culprits for the stretch limo’s demise, perThe New York Times:
The Great Recession rocked the primary client base and changed their spending habits.
Coming out of the recession, affordable chauffeur services expanded in the form of Uber and Lyft.
Two prominent deadly crashes, in 2015 and 2018, soured public opinion and led to stiffer regulations.
To that, we’ll add: the internet happened.
Attention was at a greater premium pre-social media and the limo was a reliable eyeball magnet — when one pulled up, most passersby craned their necks to see who was inside.
Now adulation is available on demand — and not at the cost of easily navigating cities. Enter the inconspicuous black SUV, the new standard in luxury transport.
Limos’ future as a novelty act
It’ll be interesting to see how stretch limos fare with Gen Z. For a generation that runs on surprise, they may be too cliche.
Kids in Portland, Oregon, set a new standard last weekend, arriving at prom in a rented World War II tank.
But even if there’s just one prominent limo left in the end, it’ll be a badass one — US presidential limo “The Beast” isn’t going anywhere.
BTW: It’d be hard to de-stretch The Beast, a veritable Bond car full of weaponry and gadgetry, which requires space for a fridge carrying a supply of the sitting president’s blood type. Yes, really.