Øyvind Birkeland is a Mechanical Engineer from Norway who works with developing internal combustion engines. A lifelong car enthusiast, he owns a 1961 Ford Anglia which has been sitting in a barn for 20 years. Mr. Brikeland is a Panther Lover, having owned a 1997 Crown Victoria LX in the past. After reading the recent review of the MKZ here on TTAC and hearing about the fallout, he contacted us to offer his thoughts regarding the car — JB
This summer my girlfriend and I decided to do a road trip across the US from LA to Miami. Like many Europeans we have been thinking and dreaming about doing something like this for a while, so this year we decided to do it. We booked a flight to LA and a return ticket from Miami 23 days later. A lifelong car enthusiast, the biggest job for me during the preparation for this trip was to find the right car. I was seriously considering buying back my ’97 Crown Vic LX which I had owned while living in San Diego and using it for the trip, but I didn’t know what shape it was in and I deemed it too risky. We decided to get a rental instead. It was imperative for me to have an American car; coming back home to Europe and telling people I did a 4000 mile Trans-American road trip in a Kia would be an embarrassment I would not have been able to live with. Luckily National provides a rental class which only includes Cadillacs and Lincolns. We booked it without knowing which model we were going to get.
We’ll make this short and simple. Derek Kreindler’s forthright review of the new Lincoln MKZ was posted a month and three days ago. Immediately after the review went live, Derek’s next press loaner from Ford was canceled with no reason given. All further requests for Ford press loaners in Canada have been denied. On August 6th, I sent an email to Ford’s head of PR in Canada.
It would appear that Lincoln’s upcoming replacement for the MKS sedan will be aimed squarely at the Chinese market. Rumors of a proper RWD flagship notwithstanding, the die has been cast, and it’s all entry-luxury-derived from here on out. (Read More…)
Please welcome TTAC reader John Mohr (username J.Emerson) and his guest contribution to our site
In 2004, my family decided to replace our soon-to-be-off-lease Ford Focus Wagon with another Ford product, having been quite satisfied with our little five-door. This being the height of the Bush-era full-size SUV binge, we were barraged with row upon row of new Explorers, Expeditions, and Excursions when my parents suggested that we wanted a “sensible 4-door family car.” My mother couldn’t have cared less about such monstrosities, but she didn’t like the recently-redesigned Taurus either, and she wanted something larger than her old Focus. Eventually, they got a deal on a new Crown Victoria LX, a car that served us well for many years. The salesmen couldn’t wait to get rid of it; it was an ‘03, and as I said before, nobody wanted bargain-brand full-size sedans in the middle of the Bush years. Most importantly, this particular car shopping experience was my wake-up call to the artificiality of Ford’s luxury branding attempts. And thinking about it now helps me to understand why Ford is content to let the Lincoln line become nothing but a set of badge-engineered clones.
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” – Henry Ford
Anyone who aspires to review cars should give Mary Walton’s “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace” a careful examination. In 392 pages, Walton introduces us to the men and women who went through the gruelling task of designing, engineering and planning DN101, the second-generation Ford Taurus that was meant to dethrone the Toyota Camry once and for all from its spot as America’s favorite car. Only the hardest of hearts would fail to identify with the Ford staffers who spent billions of dollars and countless hours slaving away at a project that ultimately flopped in the marketplace. I know it gave me pause for a long time when it came time to review a car. I began to second guess whether it was right to harp on some poorly fitting trim or wonky steering feel or a carried-over powertrain. Surely, someone wanted to do better, but budget constraints, infighting or other external factors must have conspired to taint their platonic ideal of an automobile.
And then I spoke to someone who worked at Ford and told me the story of their mother’s car shopping experience. “I went to the Lincoln dealer with her to look at a new MKZ,” he told me. “I was there, wearing my Ford jacket, picking the car apart on the showroom floor, cussing and spitting tobacco into a cup. There was flash (extra plastic that hasn’t been filed away) on the fascia. The fit was poor. My mom ended up buying a Lexus.”
When the Lincoln MKZ was introduced, Ford Motor Co. took the unusual step of pricing the MKZ Hybrid the same as the non-hybrid version of the car, $35,925. Assuming that would mean a good take rate for the Hybrid, Ford production planners for the 2013 model year set the mix at 20% for the gas-electric MKZ. The take rate turned out to be so good that for 2014, 40% of MKZs made will be hybrids. That’s what Raj Nair, Ford’s group vice president of global product development, said at the automaker’s Dearborn campus on Tuesday. Hybrid sales in the U.S. market overall are up 18.3% for the first six months of this year, compared to 2012, and Ford has been benefiting from that surge. Ford’s share of the hybrid and EV market is now close to 16%, a huge improvement of 12% over last year. The C-Max, Fusion and MKZ hybrids have given the company a strong presence in the hybrid market. Ford attributes part of it’s overall U.S. market share increase of almost 1% over 2012 to electrified vehicle growth. For the first six months of 2013, Lincoln sold 3,090 MKZ Hybrid models, an average of 515 cars a month, but now that production delays that hampered the revised MKZ’s launch have apparently been overcome, for the 2nd quarter sales exceeded 715 units each month, closely matching the current build rate at Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico assembly plant.
The Lincoln MKZ has come in for a fair amount of abuse from the automotive press, particularly here at TTAC. The Cadillac ATS, on the other hand, has the press literally doing flips.
In April of 2013, however, the American consumer chose the MKFusion LOLZ Edition over the Autobahn-bred Cadillac CTS. And the American consumer chose the Steer-The-Script-Disaster-Chunky-Butt-Mobile over the even more sporty and awesome cancer-curing ATS.
Luckily, the two Cadillacs together managed to outsell the MKZ. By a little bit.
This is a post that I’d rather not write. As a Detroiter, in an ideal world I’d rather that the domestic auto manufactures made tons of money selling great cars. I’m willing to take an unvarnished look at them, after all, those of us who live here are more likely to have some kind of personal interaction with the auto industry than most folks who live elsewhere, but I don’t feel the need to gratuitously slam GM, Ford and Chrysler the way some people do. I just want to be fair. In addition, it grates on me when people accuse TTAC of having a bias against those three Detroit based car companies. Sure, we’re not cheerleaders, but the writers and editors at TTAC don’t have conference calls or Skype sessions where we choose which of the domestic automakers we’ll slam that day. So it’s with some reluctance that I have to note what I considered to be a couple of quality control issues with the all new Lincoln MKZ, now finally arriving in dealerships after a botched launch.
I do a lot of traveling (to such exotic places as Kershaw, South Carolina and South Haven, Michigan) in my travels with the 24 Hours of LeMons, which means I have plenty of dead time in airports to contemplate puzzling car ads. The Economist is the best possible magazine to have on hand when you get hit by a six-hour weather delay at George Bush International, because of its incredible bang-for-buck density. It’s clear that marketing flacks take the Economist‘s word for it when they talk about readership demographics, because the split between self-proclaimed readership (powerful and influential globe-trotting executives) and actual readership (geeked-out history/politics junkies with unkempt beards and Dead Kennedys T-shirts) makes for some entertaining car advertisements. Here’s one for the ’13 Lincoln MKZ, which attempts to woo the 72-year-old owner of a 6-store dry-cleaning chain into feeling that the purchase of an MKZ will transform him into a focus-group-perfect 42-year-old entrepreneur. Let’s take a closer look at what Lincoln’s marketers picture as the idealized MKZ buyer. (Read More…)