A limousine (or limo) is a luxury sedan or saloon car generally driven by a chauffeur and with a partition between the driver and the passenger compartment. Limousines often have a lengthened wheelbase.
It was originally an enclosed automobile with open driver's seat. It is named after a type of cloak and hood that was worn by the inhabitants of the Limousin region that later resembled the covering of a carriage and much later used to describe an automobile body with a permanent top that extended over the open driver's compartment.
In modern use, a limousine is a luxury sedan or saloon car, especially one with a lengthened wheelbase or driven by a chauffeur. The chassis of a limousine may have been extended by the manufacturer or by an independent coachbuilder. These are called "stretch" limousines and are traditionally black or white. Limousines are usually liveried vehicles, driven by professional chauffeurs. As the most expensive form of automobile ground transportation, limousines are culturally associated with wealth or power and are commonly cited as examples of conspicuous consumption. Among the less wealthy, limousines are often hired during special events (most commonly weddings, proms, and bachelor parties).
While some limousines are owned by individuals, many are owned by governments to transport senior politicians, by companies to transport executives and guests. Most stretch limousines, however, operate as livery vehicles, providing upmarket competition to taxicabs. Builders of stretch limousines purchase stock cars from manufacturers and modify them, and most are in the United States and Europe and cater mainly to limousine companies. Few stretch limousines are sold new to private individuals. In addition to luxuries, security features such as armoring and bulletproof glass are available.
In 2012, the limousine market size was over $4 billion in the United States. There were more than 4,000 limousine companies employing 42,000 employees.