- The latest generation of presidential limousines dates from September 2018.
- The next all-new design could debut in January 2025 at the earliest.
- Presidential limos have largely been on eight-year design cycles.
Presidential inaugurations often served as starting points for new state limos. That’s when automakers – really only two for the past half-century – have often revealed new wheels for the country’s top executive.
But will we see a new Cadillac presidential limo rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20?
If you were expecting a brand new presidential limo, you might have to wait another four to eight years, at less until January 2025. That’s because presidential limos have largely been on eight-year cycles for the past 30 years, since President Bill Clinton began using a Cadillac Fleetwood limo during his first term, replacing a Lincoln limo used by President George HW Bush for a short four years during his sole term. And the last presidential limo, if you recall, only appeared about two years ago, halfway through President Donald Trump’s term, not quite missing a government contract deadline but also raising questions about its development period.
That means the current crop of presidential limos is only about two years old, and an all-new design isn’t expected until at least January 2025 at the earliest, should Cadillac choose to go back to the inaugural cycle to reveal a new vehicle.
But that doesn’t mean President Joe Biden won’t use a different vehicle of the outgoing president, because there are not just one or two presidential limousines of the same model at a given time, but a much larger number and a greater mix, with past and present limousines serving the president and vice-president during various trips. But before going into details, it is better to go back to just before what is the “modern era” of presidential limousines.
The end of the Clinton years effectively marked the end of car-based limos. The Clinton years were a somewhat different time in presidential limos, with the Cadillac Fleetwood-based limo being essentially the last to be based on a production sedan with a modified roof structure. All of the following vehicles were designed from scratch on the exterior with vague hints of existing Cadillac models.
The modern era of presidential limousines effectively began with the inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2001, during his first term an entirely new type of vehicle debuted based on General Motors’ GMT platform. , the same one that underpinned its big SUVs. These limos weren’t really based on an existing passenger car or SUV, with a custom structure and bodywork. They also used smart defense-by-design features, such as being large enough to obscure the body of a president who has just exited or is about to enter the vehicle, when viewed from the ground, while incorporating a level ballistic protection that previous Fleetwood-based limos did not offer.
The result, design-wise, wasn’t so sleek in real life, with immensely thick pillars and a square, visually heavy roof, but its size was hard to judge on TV screens and cars. didn’t look particularly strange. They might be mistaken for Cadillac DTS limousines by casual observers, albeit with taller roofs. DTS-style lighting elements were used to give the Bush-era vehicles a vaguely production look, though the scaling didn’t quite match the mass of the entire vehicle.
President Barack Obama’s two terms saw a new generation of presidential limousines debut, again adopting the proportions of the “Cadillac Escalade sedan”, but departing even further from the production cars or SUVs underneath, using GM’s Kodiak truck platform. In that sense, they weren’t even SUVs masquerading as sedans, but light trucks masquerading as SUVs masquerading as sedans, and their debut would be an alternative to the President just using Escalade SUVs shielded. At least 10 copies were produced.
It’s true: there weren’t just one or two examples of the Obama-era presidential limo, but it’s believed there were perhaps a dozen. Some remained near DC, some were used for domestic travel, some were used for international travel, and some were kept in reserve.
The latest generation of presidential limos, which debuted in September 2018, again featured a layout that had existed since the George W. Bush administration with three rows of seating, including a rear-facing second row, but lost functional glass between the B and C pillars. Compared to Obama-era limos, the 2018 model featured a much taller hood line and visually flatter roof, as well as proportionately shorter side windows that undoubtedly saved hundreds of pounds of weight because ballistic glass is much heavier than the non-transparent armor incorporated into the doors. Therefore, less glass and a higher window sill line should have given the 2018 model substantial weight savings.
But the layout of the presidential limo itself had been more or less static since the George W. Bush administration, with the Secret Service arriving at what is an optimal three-row design with a rear-facing second row, which which is unlikely. to see the change for many years.
Given that the current presidential limo design isn’t even two and a half years old, perhaps the biggest question is whether we’ll see anything different at the 2025 inauguration. Until then, GM will have several electric vehicles on the market with its Ultium drivetrain and battery, so it’s possible that the next presidential limo, even if it doesn’t change all that much on the outside, will be electric given the relatively modest range requirements . of presidential vehicles and a size that could well accommodate an exceptionally large battery.
We’re not saying such a move has been confirmed, but given the modest range and speed demands of presidential limos, it’s a possible candidate for an electric drivetrain. Whether government requirements will prevent a non-liquid fueled transmission is another matter altogether.
The tech is sure to be on point in 2023 when the next Presidential limo may enter its engineering phase, although the bodywork itself may not see so many changes in terms of layout. And it may be the next evolutionary step – an electric presidential limo that will showcase Cadillac’s shift to electric vehicles.
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