Here’s Why Limousine Rides Are about to Go Green

a hummer stretch limousine drives past b
Here’s Why Limousine Rides Are about to Go Green PATRIK STOLLARZ - Getty Images
  • Limousines and black car services are often reserved for the elite few willing to pay for style, security, and a more luxurious experience.

  • Airports, hotels, and premieres are frequent haunts for the Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Town Car, but the National Limousine Association wants to turn the industry green.

  • Laying out its GreenRide Initiative, the group aims to implement electrified vehicles, mandate certain driving routes, and implore drivers to limit the use of harmful detailing chemicals.

With the proliferation of ride-share services, it seems like the limousine is transportation of the past, at least in the ways we used to see them. Stretched versions of road-going sedans rented out for bachelorette parties, proms, and those with a desire to show off have made way for black car services, typically sporting Cadillac Escalades.


In fact, it seems like proper limousine-style vehicles are reserved for presidential figures, whether in the US-spec Cadillac, Germany-built Mercedes-Benz, or United Kingdom classic Bentley State car. But that doesn't mean limousine drivers and the surrounding industry have vanished. No, they've just been absorbed into run-of-the-mill black car services.

king charles iii inspects 200th sovereign's parade at royal military academy sandhurst
The English do have one of the cooler limousine silhouettes. Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

And this generation of drivers is hoping to make a change to an industry frequently seen as opulent. Under the National Limousine Association (NLA) collective, the group is pushing for a greener future, specifically targeting reducing emissions. The initiative is called GreenRides and is chaired by Rick Versace, chief executive officer of A1A Airport & Limousine Service.

Unlike some corporate climate goals, the group has laid out a very detailed plan of action to reduce its own carbon footprint. First up, the NLA is encouraging individual owners and fleet managers to purchase low-emission and electric vehicles, particularly vehicles that allow owners to benefit from currently available tax credits at a state and federal level.

But the plan goes further than just buying new cars—a move that could be arguably seen as wasteful in its own right. Much like airline operations, the group is proposing the use of advanced vehicle telematics and route optimization systems to minimize fuel consumption and improve operational efficiency. No more airport circling or basic highway routes.

Keeping a black car spotless for its luxury passengers is part of the gig, but the NLA is also advocating for a reduction in water usage, instead opting for waterless car wash techniques. Environmentally friendly solvents should be considered, too, even if it costs a bit extra.

bald limo driver stands with cadillac cars in parking garage
A Hollywood limousine driver poses with two of his four Cadillac for-hire cars. ROBYN BECK - Getty Images

Keeping track of this green initiative will be key to measuring its success. The NLA says maintaining a data-sharing platform to collect and analyze sustainability data is required under its current plan. With regular data inputs from various fleets, a standardized sustainability metric can then be established for the chauffeur industry.

That's a lot of changes to make for an already competitive and slightly jeopardized industry, especially for individual vehicle owners. But the NLA claims it has sweeping support from the ground transportation sector, with 92% of Global Industry Barometer survey respondents marking greener business travel as their top priority.

daily life in belarus
Belarusians appear to take their limousine stretching very seriously. Adam Berry - Getty Images

That's much easier to say than to actually implement, of course, and the NLA has little power over how its members will incorporate these plans. However, it is in black car fleet managers' best interest to comply with such rules, and not just because governmental regulation around emissions is tightening.

Given that black car routes typically revolve around airports, hotels, and specific entertainment businesses, there is little need for extended range and often ample waiting time, allowing for electric vehicles to be driven and charged with relative ease. Similarly, the quiet, torque-filled performance of an EV offers an arguably more luxurious experience.

Limo services exist outside the regular realm of ride-share services like Lyft, and the industry should capitalize on this, according to Tiffany Hinton. As co-chair of the GreenRide Initiative and Chief Operating Officer of Motev, Hinton believes business travel already has all the right tools and resources to go green regarding limos.

"As an industry, we cannot afford to ignore the clear demand for greener business travel," Hinton said.

Will ride-share services like Lyft or Uber mandate low-emissions or electric vehicles anytime soon? Please share your thoughts below.