Why QVM / CMC / Sprinter Coach Builder–Upfitter?

Things Every Limousine Buyer Should Know

The Limousine Industry Manufacturer Organization


If a coach builder and upfitter does not strictly adhere to the guidelines established by Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, and Cadillac, the buyer’s warranty on components affected by the stretch will be void.

The public is often misled on the passenger capacity of 120-inch Lincoln stretch. According to the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) established by Lincoln and Cadillac, a Lincoln 120-inch stretch can only have a passenger capacity of eight or nine depending on the materials used in the build process. Exceeding the GVWR affects the drivability of a limousine, creating a significant safety hazard in many cases.

An operator who tries to avoid paying the Gas Guzzler Tax through a legal loophole could find the IRS knocking on his/her door. As thousands before you have found out, if you try to burn the IRS you will inevitably lose.

Product Liability Insurance protects limousine owners, passengers, drivers and their families in the event of a tragic accident. Every member of the QVM and CMC Programs are required to carry Product Liability Insurance.

When the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is ignored, integral components wear out much faster.

Crash testing is not the only criteria for determining safety in limousines. Non-certified coach builders and upfitters who ignore federal standards and weight ratings often build vehicles that will not stop or steer safely and effectively.

By working directly with Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, and Cadillac, certified coach builders and upfitters create safer, and more dependable products for limousine buyers and the public.



If a limousine is not built by an authorized participant in either the Lincoln Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM), Mercedes-Benz Expert Upfitter, or Cadillac Master coach builder (CMC) program, the end user will have trouble with his/her warranty.

To demonstrate how strongly Lincoln feels about its QVM program, the company’s base and emissions warranties are void, and it’s extended service plans are ineligible on vehicles not converted by a QVM certified coach builder.

According to Cadillac, if a limousine is out of compliance with the CMC program, “the warranty is void on all aspects of the vehicle that were altered by the second stage manufacturer.” This includes components that are simply affected by the conversion, including brakes, suspension, electrical and all supporting components. Even the warranty on the engine could be rendered invalid because the engine was not designed to perform under the stress of the additional weight.

However, Cadillac and Lincoln both offer standard extended warranties on limousines built under the guidelines they have established. Lincoln’s standard warranty for QVM limousines is 4 years/150,000 miles. Cadillac’s standard warranty on CMC limousines is 3 years/150,000 miles.


Operators and the public are often misinformed about the actual passenger capacity of limousines. In order for Lincoln or Cadillac limousines to meet federal guidelines and abide by the standards set up in the QVM/CMC programs, their GVWR must not exceed established limits. That means a limousine stretched 120 inches will only be able to accommodate up to eight or nine passengers, depending on the weight of the materials used in the build process.

Lincoln’s GVWR is 7950 pounds and Cadillac’s is 6885 pounds. Maybe this sounds like plenty of weight, but consider this: If you add up eight passengers, plus the driver, at 150 pounds per person (the weight established by Cadillac of Lincoln), you already reach 1350 pounds. This number must be factored into the total weight of the vehicle.

If the coach builder exceeds the GVWR, driveability of the limousine will be affected, creating a significant safety hazard in many cases. Certified builders utilize “heavy-duty” coach builder packages that allow their vehicles—which can be stretched up to 120-inches—to meet FMVSS for braking, steering, suspension, etc.

** Certified coach builders are prohibited by Lincoln and Cadillac from creating a seating arrangement that provides room for more passengers than the GVWR allows. A seat belt must be installed every 16.5 inches, and any additional room for seating will contradict the rules established by the original equipment manufactures.**


When you purchase a limousine, check inside the drivers door jaml to make sure there is a Certification Label and Tire Placard with passenger capacitiy from the secondary stage manufacturer (or coach builder). The Certification Label states that on the day of completion, the vehicle abided by all applicable laws, including Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).


Although safety is surely the most significant issue in the limousine conversion process, operators purchasing vehicles that exceed the GVWR should also be warned that they could face higher maintenance bills.

The specifications outlined in the build process by the CMC and QVM programs were established so that the end user would benefit from a safe and durable product. By dismissing those specifications, non-certified coach builders not only ignore FMVSS, they build vehicles that suffer from accelerated wear and tear on important components including suspension, drivetrain and braking systems.

Members of the QVM and CMC programs understand that federal standards were established for a reason. Anytime you increase the weight of a vehicle; the life expectancy and performance of its components are affected—which is why the Lincoln Limousine Builders Package and Cadillac V4U “heavy-duty” packages feature parts with increased durability. Lincoln and Cadillac stand behind the products built by the certified builders because certified coach builders take their programs seriously.


Some non-certified coach builders attempt to skirt the law and not charge Gas Guzzler Tax under the pretense that they convert vehicles owned by another party. These coach builders advise buyers to supply them with a sedan, which they then convert into a limousine.

While this may sound like a legal loophole, a limousine operator could face serious problems if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) comes knocking on his/her door, asking questions and demanding answers. The fact is the IRS expect to receive Gas Guzzler Tax on limousines sales. While searching for that money, the IRS will first ask a coach builder to show documentation proving it has been paid. If the coach builder’s books show it was not paid, the IRS can subpoena the buyer’s books and demand payment directly from them. Inevitably, if you try to burn the IRS, you will lose.


For piece of mind, limousine buyers should make sure the company that converts their vehicle carries Product Liability Insurance, in case a serious accident occurs. Every QVM certified manufacutrer is required to carry a minimum of $5 million in Product Liability Insurance, giving limousine owners, passengers, drivers and their families a place to turn in the event of a tragedy.

Buyers of limousines built by QVM and CMC Program members have added piece of mind because Lincoln and Cadillac have agreed to stand behind limousines certified in the those programs on safety issues. On the other hand, if a vehicle is not certified Lincoln and Cadillac may be considered to have zero liability in a case involving an accident, which means “no deep pockets.” The existence and importance of these programs, after all, is common knowledge in the industry—so the weight of any lawsuit could fall squarely on the shoulders of the coach builder, who may not even have Product Liability Insurance.

It is impossible to ascertain whether a non-certified coach builder is protecting you with Product Liability Insurance—which is another reason to buy your limousine from a QVM/CMC coach builder. As part of the certification process, coach builders must prove they maintain coverage. Cadillac and Lincoln instruct participating insurance companies to notify them in the event one of their coach builders Product Liability Insurance policies is dropped.


Crash testing is an important component in determining the safety of a limousine. However, it is not the only component. The braking, steering and suspension systems of a sedan are all affected when it is “converted” into a limousine, which is shy GVWRs were established by Lincoln, Cadillac and The Federal Government.

A limousine that exceeds the intended GVWR may be built to withstand a significant crash. However since it's brakes, steering and suspension were not designed to accommodate the additional weight, accidents are far more likely to occur. Why? As a vehicle acquires more mass, the braking system will not be able to slow it down as quickly and safely, and steering becomes more difficult. A vehicle that can not be safely steered or stopped is a significant hazard on the road—not only for the passengers and driver, but also for the general public.

To improve limousine performance, both Lincoln and Cadillac provide heavy-duty coach builder prep packages that are not available to retail buyers, so do not be tricked. coach builders who tell you they can stretch your own sedan at a “cut-rate” will be building you a limousine with durability, performance, safety and warranty problems. The vehicle’s GVWR will also be lower than that of a vehicle abiding by Lincoln and Cadillac standards, due to the fact that heavy-duty components are absent.


The Lincoln Qualified Vehicle Modifier and Cadillac Master coach builder programs were developed to establish a level of continuity for the build process of limousines, so that product quality, durability and safety would be enhanced. Based on FMVSS, with critical data compiled from numerous crash tests, the programs evaluate participating coach builders on critical areas such as engineering, the manufacturing process and quality control.

Strict adherence to program guidelines is required, and a commitment to continuous improvement by participating coach builders is gauged by annual facility inspections and reviews. Technical information is shared between Lincoln, Cadillac and participating coach builders, further improving the safety and fit & finish of limousine conversions. The end result of these programs is that the end user receives a safer, higher quality, more dependable product.


The QVM/CMC VMA were created to deal with pertinent issues relating to the production of limousines, such as safety, quality and continuous improvement. By policing themselves, the members ensure that FMVSS and the guidelines established by Lincoln and Cadillac are met on all vehicles built by participating companies. The QVM and CMC Programs made great strides in creating a higher level of professionalism and safety in the limousine industry. It is estimated that its members currently build approximately 70 percent of the world’s limousines each year.

An aggressive lawyer who tries to go after Lincoln or Cadillac for damages from an accident involving a limousine that was built without regard to QVM or CMC guidelines may run up against a surprising answer—particularly if the limousine was stretched more than 120 inches for Lincoln. When a coach builder converts a sedan into a limousine that falls far enough outside the parameters established by Lincoln and Cadillac, that coach builder may become the actual manufacturer of the vehicle, as opposed to just a converter. This takes Lincoln and Cadillac cleanly and completely out of the loop, in the event of an accident.