Why do Americans no longer want limos?

Washington Watch

President Barack Obama has introduced stricter fuel consumption and emissions standards for American cars because he wants to make the United States a pioneer against climate change and for environmental protection. The fact that his own company vehicle is not a "green car" but a black beast has to do with the tiresome security precautions for residents of the White House.

The new man in the White House also has a new company car, which the "Secret Service" gave a nickname even before its maiden voyage, including the President and First Lady on inauguration day: The Beast. The “beast”, which weighs tons, was built by the engineers of the General Motors luxury brand Cadillac in close cooperation with the Secret Service officials. The GM mechanics and engineers who built the presidential car are as secrecy as the Secret Service bodyguards.

Because for safety reasons nothing reliable can be known about the fully armored car with the registration number "USA 1", speculation is growing all the more. It all started when the photographer Chris Doane, who specializes in spying on so-called Erlkönigen, was able to record a camouflaged prototype of the presidential limousine during test drives in the summer of 2008.

Experienced auto journalists and security experts have learned that President Barack Obama's new official vehicle, which was ready in time for the inauguration on January 20, is powered for the first time by a diesel engine developed by General Motors for small trucks. It should be an engine with a displacement of 6.6 liters, eight V-shaped cylinders and a turbocharger. For this decision, the better torque of diesel generators should have been decisive, which guarantees faster progress if speed starts are necessary. The weight of the body should be between six and seven tons, the acceleration performance from zero to one hundred kilometers per hour is given with a rather weak 15 seconds. Nothing is known about the fuel consumption of the four-wheel drive roller bunker. The vehicle is unlikely to reach a top speed of more than 100 km / h.

The moving fortress is not designed as a getaway car, but rather is to withstand possible attacks thanks to its armor. From the underbody to the roof to the windows, the vehicle is armored like no other sedan in the world: the steel plates and Kevlar layers should be up to 20 centimeters thick, the armored glass made of plastic is estimated to be twelve centimeters thick. The tires remain drivable even if they are riddled with bullets or shrapnel. Not even a bazooka should be able to harm the car, the diesel tank is lined with fire-resistant plastic to prevent an explosion. The interior is hermetically sealed against attacks with gas or chemical weapons and has its own oxygen supply.

The traditional black lacquered limousine is the embodiment of the presidential "bubble", which has become the armored material, that air bubble separated from the outside world in which a president lives as soon as he has moved into the White House. During the inauguration parade, President and First Lady Michelle Obama got off at two points on the parade route and walked a few steps.

Because the armored glass lets through little daylight, there is interior lighting that the President and his passengers can switch on for reading and writing - and also for the purpose of being able to be recognized from the outside when the people are waved to. Presidential seals are woven or embossed into the fabric covering of the vehicle ceiling, the leather seats and the door covers. The black leather covers are of course hand-sewn. Is it true that the sedan, also known as “Cadillac One”, to the delight of GM - the presidential aircraft is known to be called “Air Force One”, the helicopter “Marine One” - is also equipped with a can of the President's blood to be used in an emergency To enable an infusion is an open question. Other rumors want to know that there are tear gas grenades and assault rifles inside the vehicle for "external defense" of the moving fortress or that these are embedded in the cavities of the hydraulically opening and closing doors.
At least three or four copies of the new presidential limousine are to be built or have already been delivered. When the President travels, he takes two limousines with him - one for driving, the other as a replacement and as a decoy that does not transport the President, but only the Secret Service people. The limousines left at home are available to the Vice President. In order to be able to be transported in the air force cargo planes, the limousines are "standard" equipped with mounting hooks on the underbody.

The first armored presidential limousine was driven by Franklin D. Roosevelt: it had previously been confiscated by Chicago gang boss Al Capone and then presidential refurbished. It was a 1928 Cadillac with a V-16 cylinder engine, similar to the "V-16 Madam X" model shown here.

From 1939 on, Roosevelt drove in a Lincoln "Sunshine Special" built by Ford. Long gone are the days when American presidents drove in open limousines. The vehicle in which President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas remained in service after the bloody act of November 22, 1963 and was later used by his successor Lyndon B. Johnson: It was not possible to quickly build a replacement vehicle, besides In this way, too, the continuity of the presidency should triumph over the presidential murder.

It is now a tradition that a new, improved model of the presidential limousine is delivered every four years. For decades, Ford with its luxury brand Lincoln and GM with its Cadillac alternated as purveyors to the White House. Cadillac has been one step ahead since 1989. President George W. Bush got his last official vehicle in early 2005.

The disused vehicles are not scrapped or sold to collectors, but - as the legend would have it - should either be used for test purposes, blown up, sunk in the sea or buried. If a vehicle of more recent production is handed over to a presidential museum, it can only be exhibited with the doors locked: The keys remain with the Secret Service because the interior of the vehicle must remain hidden from the public.

As the last private car, Barack Obama bought a Ford Explorer with a hybrid engine in the summer of 2008. He had given up his Chrysler 300 because of its thirsty engine. At this year's Detroit Auto Show, which closed its gates on January 25, you could see which cars, in President Obama's opinion, Americans should drive in the future. More about that in the upcoming blog.

(Photo credit: Secret Service / GM; Chris Doane / Brenda Priddy & Company; Doug Mills / The New York Times; The Telegraph (3))

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The President and the Beast

By Matthias Rüb

President Barack Obama has introduced stricter fuel consumption and emissions standards for American cars because he wants to make the United States a pioneer against climate change and environmental protection. The fact that his own company vehicle is not a "green car" but a black beast has to do with the tiresome security precautions for residents of the White House.

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