Ford's Farley: We'll End 13-Year Losing Streak
Ex-Toyota and current Ford marketing maven Jim Farley tells Automotive News [AN, sub] that The Blue Oval Boyz “expect” to stabilize their U.S. market share– after a 13-year decline. And if that’s not stretching the boundaries of credibility (your call), Jimbo reckons the new Lincoln MKT and, what was it again? MKS “could” increase the luxury brand’s slice of the American pie. “We think we have a really good chance this year. We don’t know what the luxury market is going to look like, but the one thing we’re really focused on is making sure that people see our products as aspirational and they pay the price.” Although Farley fails to provide a plan to achieve this goal, AN reckons it could may maybe perhaps happen. “Lincoln could gain share even as the brand’s total sales fall below 100,000 for the first time since 1982. Lincoln finished 2008 with sales of 107,295, its lowest total since 1983. With forecasts for lower industry sales in 2009, executives acknowledged that new-vehicle entries may not be enough to keep Lincoln sales in six figures.”
Mark LT is dead. Town Car will continue its normal fleet duty (although I doubt Lincoln will offer it as a 2010 model to retail customers). Lincoln will, for all purposes, have five cars in 2009: Navigator, MKT, MKX, MKS, MKZ. And getting 90k units out of those five (even with the MKT's half-year run) shouldn't be too difficult. The Town Car will end up 5-10k and make up most of the difference to balance the marketshare and maybe grow it. What will this do for Lincoln's long-term viability? Not sure. We'll find out after the ecoboost hits... see if there's a hope in hell of attracting someone under 50. The MKZ could have used something a bit more in the powertrain department - then Ford'd have a chance, but alas. Can Ford hold marketshare this year? I have them projected down only 0.1%, and my projections underestimated their marketshare the last two months by nearly 1% and 0.5%. I think a lot of this lies in: demand for trucks and Ford's ability to hold/gain share in that segment and whether Ford is playing for brand value or just marketshare. The Edge and Flex are examples where their discounts are in line or slightly less relative to other offerings in their class from even the Japanese. The Edge's drop in the last few months is not just Ford losing share because it's losing share, but fundamentally pricing differently than before and moving far fewer fleet units. That type of effort applied more broadly to the line-up will likely land them with slightly less marketshare again in 2009... but that also means it's probably the first time in a while that I could say that Ford is in control of their marketshare more or less.
Correct me if I am wrong, but aside from the Fleet sales of the Town Car, I think the majority of Lincoln sales are retail. As for attracting younger buyers, Lincoln is definitely doing that. The older buyers don't like the new Lincolns (too small, too swoopy, to expensive, trunk too small etc..), but it seemed like a lot of Acura buyers were defecting to Lincoln - believe it or not. Those Acura buyers really don't seem to like their rides, but seem to love the new Lincolns. At least at the dealership I worked at.
Ford said they were going to keep Mercury alive. Gave it a new Milan, but not a new Sable or any other D-platform vehicle. Seems dead to me. Weren't some of the Euro-Fords on their way over to be badged as Mercurys? Anyway, Mercury has always been a rebadge - a very cost effective way to expand your offerings. I think it does help to pull traffic in to LM dealers.
They should sell the Euro-Focus as a Mercury and build the 20k rwd coupe everyone wants on a derivitive (decent output v6 and the IRS it had originally) of the Mustang Platform and call it the Cougar. Leave the honkin' v8 for the Stangs and give the cat a more euro flavor. Keep the Milan and Mariner but maybe throw in a unique motor if one is available from Mazda maybe and give em' something big, rwd, good, and modern to replace the Grand Marquis. As for Lincoln, I'd pretty much follow the Lexus mold but without the lesser models. A unique flagship model, A high end coupe off the stang platform (IRS, V8, basically a high end mustang, maybe a longer wheel base, that handles with top notch interior, etc.) Something off the aforementioned new Grand Marquis to replace the town car. Between the two I think a Lincoln Mercury dealership would have a decent line up without them all stepping on each other too much. The Euro Focus would be cross shopped with the Civic and Carolla...leave the bargain basement to the Ford model. The Cougar would be a segment that doesn't really exist now as has been pointed out. The other 2 aren't really changed. With Lincoln, the market for a distinct Town Car and Grand Marquis exists, or would if the cars were good...the past has shown that. The Lincoln Stang would be compared to the Infinity/Nissan coupes and the flagship would have it's obvious Foreign competition.