By on June 21, 2011

Lincoln, once the conveyance of presidents and Hollywood moguls, hasn’t been doing too well lately. In May, Lincoln sold just 7,399 vehicles in the U.S., about the same as Volvo, a brand that Ford had sold to the Chinese. The average buyer’s age of a Lincoln sold in 2010 edges up to the wheelchair-demographic: 62. Despite ample Panther-love doled out by TTAC, Lincoln is losing customers left and right: According to White House historians at the Wall Street Journal, every president from Calvin Coolidge through George H.W. Bush rode in a Lincoln limousine. The new prez defected to a Government Motor’s Beast.

The matter even attracted attention from Ford’s cross town rival GM. Its CEO Dan Akerson had some ungodly advice: “They are trying like hell to resurrect Lincoln. Well, I might as well tell you, you might as well sprinkle holy water. It’s over.”

Ford was faced with a tough decision: Keep it or kill it? And the decision is:

Lincoln lives!

Ford “is making a revival of its ailing Lincoln luxury brand its top priority,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Later this year, Ford will begin a sweeping make-over of the 96-year-old brand, to give staid Lincoln a new identity as a producer of high-tech, understated luxury cars.”

According to Reuters, Ford “is spending $1 billion in an effort to develop a new generation of vehicles for its struggling Lincoln brand.”  That’s a bargain as far as luxury cars go. The development of Volkswagen’s Phaeton was rumored to exceed $1 billion, and we all knew what that got Volkswagen.

Ford will get “seven new or redesigned Lincolns” for the money, writes the WSJ. The first ones, arriving in November, are redesigns of the MKS sedan and MKT SUV. An all new MKZ will in late 2012. “The four remaining vehicles won’t be launched until 2013 or 2014,” says the Journal. That billion will need to last for a while.

In lieu of all-new cars, customers will get features: Self-tuning suspension systems, hands-free controls and entertainment systems, retractable, all-glass roofs and computerized sound-reduction technology.

Lincoln has to fight the perception that Lincolns are nothing but blinged-up Fords. That fight will continue for a while.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s head of global product development, told the Journal that the “seven new Lincolns in the pipeline will still share parts with Ford models, but he promised they will have unique exterior panels, headlamps and other touches to give them a distinct look.”

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193 Comments on “$1 Billion Says: Akerson Is Dead Wrong! Lincoln Lives!...”


  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    So the decicion is to continue on with rebadging Fords…. fail. They have to fight the “perception” that Lincolns are nothing but blinged up Fords rather than change the reality.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      I really WANT a Lincoln!
      Do you guys have any idea when Ford is going to build one?

      It is a big long dramatically shaped cruiser with dual headlights and a full width grille. It has suicide doors. It has a Continental spare bump on the trunk lid. It is quieter than a hearse. When you open the door, you hear yourself involuntarily say, “OOOH!”

      When Ford builds a Lincoln like that, I want one!

      • 0 avatar
        Brian E

        The market for that Lincoln is you and about 10 other people, none of which actually have the money required to buy the car you’re suggesting they make. What you’re actually going to get is a poor substitute for an Audi that ends up being cross shopped with (and losing to) Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Odd; I wanted a Lincoln back when the LS was in the planning. I’d rather have had a domestic Jag with a stick rather than a re-badged modern Fusion or a reincarnation of the Strassenkreuzer.

        P.S.
        Can someone familiar with the original German term clarify the definition? I always took it literally in the nautical sense that the car is the size of a battleship versus the American meaning of cruising as driving around aimlessly.

      • 0 avatar

        I always understood it to mean the same as a yank tank; just a way to refer to big American cars from the forties on, at a time when most German cars were small.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Brian E, +1

        Always fun to see the fantasy car bubble popped. Of course, to make it perfect the car also needs to be a manual transmission wagon with a diesel. Bonus points if it is priced under $15k, or released directly from the factory as a used car.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Given that the *average* Lincoln car buyer was born *before* Hitler invaded Poland, and that their spokesman is a white-haired widower gentleman, I suspect there are quite a few more potential Lincoln Continental Town Car buyers than there are current Maybach buyers.

        That is, the average age of a Lincoln buyer is 62, Lincoln is marketed to AARP types, and non-premium pricing means they can definitely move 5 or 6 such cars each month.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dude, we owned a 1992 Towncar (bought new) that was my wife’s daily driver. We loved everything about that car except for the amount of maintenance and repair it required. When she finally retired it in 2008 in favor of a Jap-built Highlander Limited AWD we got back much of the ride and handling, but none of the warranty repair and maintenance.

        We sold the TC to a young airman on the nearby air base and it became his daily driver until he got out of the service. When we sold it to him it had just shy of 156,000 miles on it but a lot of the parts had already been replaced, much of it by me with Autozone and NAPA supplying the parts.

        Among the premature failures were gaskets and seals too numerous to list here, the starter motor, a waterpump, a power steering pump, the fan clutch, the AC was completely rebuilt twice, the radiator repaired, front wheelbearings replaced, the driverside rear-wheelbearing replaced, the transmission rebuilt twice (once under warranty), and numerous electrical components like the heater fan blower motor, driverside window motor, and electric fuel pump.

        I think it will be a cold day in hell before we’ll buy another Lincoln. The Lexus LS460 looks a lot more promising.

      • 0 avatar
        KitaIkki

        Even FWD might work if it’s “bespoke”

        Imagine a modern 1966 Olds Toronado style FWD. V8 engine behind front axle for minimal overhang (and prestigious long axle-to-dash ratio). Perhaps even make it body-on-frame?

        Make it a 4-door sedan with suicide rear doors. With completely flat floor, column shifter and 40/60 split front bench seat (all headrests except the driver’s are motorized and retract when seat is unoccupied). It would be “iconic,” like no other car in the world, and provides supreme interstate cruising comfort for up to six full-sized adults.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      “Given that the *average* Lincoln car buyer was born *before* Hitler invaded Poland…”

      Ah, the American educational system strikes again! Hitler did not invade Poland after 1949 (62 yrs ago, the birth year of the average Lincoln buyer). Nor is the average Lincoln buyer, based on this demographic “wheel-chair aged” (60 is the new 40, you know) or even a member of “the Greatest Generation” of WWII fame. This would make the average buyer a Woodstock generation ex-hippy who has given up fighting the man and become the man. It’s the Vietnam era former marine driving the Lincoln these days, guys too young to have even gone to fight in the Korean Conflict, much less landed on Normandy.

      Time to update our stereotypes, I suppose, huh?

  • avatar
    daviel

    “seven new Lincolns in the pipeline will still share parts with Ford models, but he promised they will have unique exterior panels, headlamps and other touches to give them a distinct look.”

    tarted-up Fords – that’s the ticket!

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      It’s the ticket if the Brand is “Mercury”.

      And really, that’s what Lincoln is – the new Mercury.

      Tho, seems like Ford could have saved a lot of trouble by simply killing Lincoln instead.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Eh, waddaya want fer a billion dollas da moon?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      This is the Hyundai/Kia approach, and it works well. All those brands seem to share is drivetrain and suspension components. They even compete for some of the same markets.

      But I think more is expected of a luxury brand derivative (which Kia is not), and Lexus and Infiniti are excellent examples.

      • 0 avatar
        hapless

        Hyundai and Kia have their own problems. Hyundai is only a part-owner of Kia, a formerly independent firm. Kia retains largely independent management and marketing, using last-generation Hyundai technology.

        As a result, their brands step on each others toes and the marketing message is schizophrenic.

        The relationship is more analogous to Ford/Mazda or Renault/Nissan than Ford/Lincoln or Lexus/Toyota. Unlike Renault/Nissan and Ford/Mazda, Hyundai and Kia compete in the exact same market segments within the exact same geography — not a recipe for a successful partnership.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Lincoln needs to build a 4-door convertible, a modern Continental convertible. Their entire range should be RWD or AWD/4WD.

      And it needs to get rid of the stupid MK* names and baleen grilles, go back to classic branding fer fuxake!!

      (IMO I would love to see an American brand that embodied the bleeding-edge of technology, the way that Cadillac did early in its history. Luxury sedans with serial hybrid powertrains using microturbine gensets, hub motors, advanced materials and componentry, etc.)

    • 0 avatar
      Otterpops

      They SHOULD share parts.

      I mean like turn signal stalks and such. Maybe seat rails.

      The maximum acceptable similarity between Lincoln and Ford is exemplified by the Mark VIII and Thunderbird.

  • avatar
    srogers

    This could work for Lincoln. Lexus’ big sellers are all modifications of Toyotas.

    Are the majority of buyers really that concerned about the origin of the chassis – as long as the car looks different and performs well?

    Of course, all us TTAC readers are far too sophisticated to fall for this, but we’re a small percentage of the auto market.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      I don’t see how this small investment and strategy will work. When the CTS came out the platform was not shared with other North American GM offerings, and the reception was very strong – the impact on demographics was also immediate. The GMT-800 platform Escalade EXT came out at the same time, but didn’t share much of anything but the base chassis with its GMC or Chevrolet stablemates. Sheet metal was largely not interchangable (beyond doors IIRC), the engines were vastly different, AWD vs part-time 4WD, suspension tuning, and the interiors again shared next to nothing but the deep guts customers never saw. This spilled over to the Escalade and a rebirth was made. The Escalade EXT should have been killed years ago – the CTS certainly saved Cadillac as a brand (along with clever advertising and a huge investment from GM).

      Changing headlights and taillights and other bits is not going to save Lincoln. Current TV ads show MyFord Touch as a product benefit – hello Ford, I can get that in a Focus – I don’t have to buy a Lincoln.

      FWD chassis vehicles are not going to save Lincoln; it is not their heritage. Cadillac is thriving going back to their roots. Lincoln desperately needs a Lincoln Mark IX, a RWD powered beast with the ECOBOOST 3.5L V6 tuned for car duty versus truck duty under the hood, and a V8 options. It needs to go into the same waters as the 3-series, the CTS, the Audi A4/A6, and Mercedes C-350. It has to be better than a CTS in every way to get attention, and they have to portray a far more youthful marketing image.

      I don’t see it happening with a billion dollars. I don’t know what Ford does without a luxury division. As their customers mature, get wealthier, and more resources, they will defect to other brand with no where else to go (most of them are now anyway) instead of growing up through the brand (e.g. Scion to Toyota to Lexus or Nissan to Infiniti or Chevrolet to Cadillac or VW to Audi or…).

      I guess if Lincoln goes away you could build Ford flagship vehicles, but ask Hyundai how well the Genesis sedan is selling. Ford isn’t seen as a flagship brand and doesn’t have the country club cachete (shoot neither does Lincoln at this stage).

      Maybe selling Volvo wasn’t that smart after all.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I wouldn’t say that Cadillac is thriving. Since 2000, GM has spent over $4 billion on Cadillac, and doesn’t have all that much to show for it.

        The Sigma platform was supposed to spawn a rebirth of Cadillac. GM spent billions on not only the Sigma platform, but a whole new plant to build it. The only model based on that platform that could be called a success is the CTS. The STS virtually sank without a trace, and the Sigma-based SRX landed with a thud. Hardly seems like a good return on the investment.

        The XLR, meanwhile, quietly disappeared, and no one cared. The DTS is the Park Avenue of 2011. It is scheduled to be replaced by a stretched Epsilon. I can hardly wait…

        Of the three Cadillacs that are selling in any numbers, two – the Escalade and SRX – are based heavily on common GM platforms. (Based on what I saw at the auto shows, the Escalade interiors share a great deal with their GMC and Chevrolet cousins. The kinship is immediately apparent when you sit in one. The main difference is the higher quality materials used in the Escalade.)

        Maybe in comparison to Lincoln, Cadillac is a success story, although that is a pretty low bar by any measure. But if I were in charge at Ford, I sure wouldn’t be looking to Cadillac as showing the path to success. The long-term results, by any rational measurement, have not justified the initial investment. GM spent $4 billion and Cadillac is still an also-ran in the segment. It is a near-luxury brand at best, as it doesn’t even have a credible competitor to the Mercedes E-Class or BMW 5-Series, let alone the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series or Lexus LS.

      • 0 avatar

        geeber: +1

        There’s no real other viable solution for Lincoln, except the Lexus-lite approach. If they can get volumes up to a semi-reasonable level, Lincoln could be quite profitable. If not, they haven’t risked much. Mulally is playing it safe and smart.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        @geeber: The CTS and SRX are both strong sellers for Cadillac. Each of those two outsells the remaining Caddies *combined*:

        http://media.gm.com/content/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/Jun/gmsales

        http://media.gm.com/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/Jun/gmsales/_jcr_content/rightpar/sectioncontainer/par/download_1/file.res/Deliveries%20May%202011.xls

        As for positioning, it looks like Buick is positioned against Lexus, and the Enclave is a very solid competitor. Indeed, it’s interesting that, of BMW, Benz, and Lexus, *none* of them have a vehicle which competes on an equal footing against the Buick Enclave. BMW doesn’t even have a full-size 3-row CUV. GX & R-klasse are both flops.

        But at least Caddy has at least 1 “world-class” performer in the CTS, and the 2-row SRX is no slouch, either. When you consider that BMW is really about the 3-series, Benz is the E-klasse & S-klasse, and Lexus is only moving ES & RX, then Caddy having 2 “good” models is par for the course.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The current SRX isn’t a Sigma platform vehicle, it’s a reworked Theta (which underpins the Equinox). The current SRX doesn’t compare well to the Lexus RX or the Lincoln MKX when you look at the vehicle objectively, but it does start at about a $5K less MSRP, which I’m sure helps.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The new SRX is selling better than the original, but it’s based on a Chevrolet platform and is considerably cheaper than the original version. (In view of this, why, exactly, is it a problem that Lincoln shares some platforms with Ford?)

        Given the price cut, I would expect it to sell better, although the failure of the original SRX, along with failure of the XLR and STS, speaks volumes about Cadillac’s inability to demand the prices that comparable BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Lexuses command.

        And Buick does not compete directly with Lexus. Certain Buicks compete with certain Lexus models. The brands, however, are simply not in the same league. Lexus is far more prestigious, and sells vehicles in segments where Cadillac cannot successfully compete, let alone Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      A Caving Ape

      Regarding Lexus… only one of their four car models is FWD… the rest are rear drive. Maybe they dig into the parts bin a bit but aside from the ES (the top seller, admittedly) the chassis are bespoke.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian E

        Where are you getting that? Three of their six car models are FWD (ES, HS, and CT), not counting the wildly limited production LFA or the discontinued SC. Total sales in 2010 for Lexus’s FWD models were 155,105 vs. 74,224 for RWD models, meaning that FWD Lexus models outsell RWD by a 2:1 ratio even without the CT in the mix.

      • 0 avatar
        A Caving Ape

        Brian: Ah, my mistake, I was looking at USA only sales. There its 38K FWD and 35K RWD… much closer to 1:1. Either way Lincoln is missing out on 1/3 to 1/2 of the (Lexus) market.

    • 0 avatar
      Otterpops

      The only one that has a comparable Toyota in the US is the ES. The rest are either bespoke, or are JDM-only Toyotas.

      The only way Lincoln’s situation would be the same would be if they were to base all their models on non-US Fords. (Say, like the Falcon?)

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        The Falcon is the only non-US Ford not sold in the US that would be applicable as a Lincoln, now that the Focus is global and the Mondeo will merge with the Fusion for the next generation – then again it is too late to build a Lincoln version of the current Mondeo.

  • avatar
    Marko

    You know, with Mercury gone and Volvo sold, Lincoln may actually have a useful role for Ford. Ford must accept, however, that Lincoln needs a real flagship if they are going to attract luxury buyers.

    How about a limited-production, ultra-luxury, Shelby Mustang-based (though hopefully with IRS) Mark IX 2+2/”grand tourer”?

    And a “suicide door” Continental sedan version?

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      +1

      A proper flagship is required to be credible as a true luxury brand. While Lexus might make most of their sales volume with blinged out Highlanders and Camrys, the LS 460 is a luxury car worthy of the name.

      A high end RWD Continental would be a good halo product that could also serve as a Town Car replacement. I don’t see anything like this in the works from Lincoln, even the Chrysler 300 Executive is more a credible luxury car than a blinged out Fusion or Taurus…

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      I agree that Lincoln needs a Mustang-based grand tourer worthy of the name Lincoln–but one problem with using the “Mark IX” name: Lincoln already makes the MKX, which would make the Mark IX a backward step, if we’re paying attention to Roman numerals.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I’m not sure what the new Lincolns will be like, but I sure like the Lincolns illustrating this article!!

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I hope one of those mystery models is an “MK-Mustang”.

    I’ll take mine with 4 doors, a stick shift, and an Ecoboost V6 driving the rear wheels only, please.

    • 0 avatar
      kenzter

      I’ll take one of those as well.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      I hate to burst your bubble, but that sounds like exactly the kind of car enthusiasts clamor for and then nobody buys. You can sell a reasonable number of powerful, well-executed 2 door sports sedans if you really do it right (CTS-V, M3, ISF), but the idea of a luxury-sports 4 door (especially one with a manual) has never sold and never will. It straddles two market segments too much to be a true sales success.

      • 0 avatar
        Otterpops

        Explain BMW, then.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        BMW doesn’t sell very many manuals in the US. The BMWs that still offer manuals are global models that still sell in large numbers overseas. It wouldn’t make a lot of fiscal sense for Lincoln to offer a manual transmission in the US as the take rate wouldn’t pay for the seperate development costs (EPA testing, etc…)

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Lincoln should just quit pretending to be something it is not.

    They should just sell Lincolns at Ford dealers. More dealers, more volume in my book. Change the stand alone Lincoln dealers to Ford-Lincoln dealers unless there is too much geographic overlap.

    Next work on that 4-door baby hot-rod Lincoln on the Mustang platform to keep the Flatrock plant busy when Mazda pulls out.
    This also give an incentive to develop the independent rear suspension.

    The Lincoln line-up built from Ford FWD platforms should be 100% AWD. They should sell luxury, secure driving, style, and value. They should compete on being a city slicker rather than a German clone. (Leave the “ring” for the baby Lincoln only)

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Ford should not have sold Volvo during the financial melt down.

      If Lincoln is to be a gussied up Ford, then +1 on the AWD suggestion.

      Also, the brand should have added power versus a corresponding Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        Volvo is still dead-man-walking. Unless they start producing world Volvos in China, I can’t see them as being any competition to BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti, Cadillac, Hyundai, Kia, etc.

        Ford was wise to get cash for Volvo, because Volvo has nothing except a lot of people pining for their 240s. Volvo’s not luxury, prestige, sport or value, and everyone else has safety now. Turn out the lights.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Perhaps, but Volvo’s got a lot more 240 lovers than Saab’s got 99/900 lovers…

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    7 models. ‘Nough said.
    If they could only settle for 2 or 3. One Town car, one Continental, and maybe one seriously tarted up LWB Mustang with IRS. That would be sufficient until they have at least built up a reputation. Right now they truly are Mercury, and it would be sad to see them go the same way.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      7 models, eh?

      5 are enough to capture the Lincoln core:

      Continental Town Car (full-size sedan)
      Versailles (mid-size sedan)

      Mark IX (2+2 luxury coupe)

      Navigator (3-row CUV)
      Aviator (2-row CUV)

      That leaves 2 spots:

      Continental Town Coupe (mid-size fastback)
      Zephyr (2-seat GT)

      As Lincoln should be fast and smooth, I suggest resurrecting the “Town Coupe” as an A7-esque fastback, along with a proper Grand Touring sports car.

      • 0 avatar

        SVX, I don’t know if Ed will run it but there’s a Look At What I Found! in the hopper about the Lincoln Town Coupe of the 1970s. A two door that big is just too silly to imagine, but they made them and they sold pretty well.

      • 0 avatar
        CarPerson

        +1

        Very good card but a ton of money to pull off. Would all that money really be well spent? While pondering that, spend some change on the compact pickup. They have the best selling vehicle in the U.S.; does all that talent dry up at the edge of smaller trucks?

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        A full-size 1970s Town Coupe (or Eldo) simply wouldn’t work today. Especially as a giant, pillarless convertible. But, oh, what a car…

        That’s why I suggest an A7 fastback “coupe” to resurrect the name and image. Between that and a Zephyr sports GT, at least you’d notice Lincoln.

        @CarPerson:

        Ford has plenty of money for Ford – that’s not the problem. Lincoln needs work to succeed. Mostly because FoMoCo has done pretty much everything possible to destroy the brand. Pathetic and sad.

        But Lincoln needs to do something bold, and do something soon, or it’ll be too late.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Ford has no choice but to continue with tarted up Fords as Lincolns. There is no business case for spending the amount of money it would take to produce exclusive Lincoln models. Lincoln will continue to languish but Ford will actually make money selling the Ford derivatives just as they do now. How much more do you think it costs Ford to produce an MKS on the Taurus line, a MKZ on the Fusion line etc.? That’s why they aren’t killing Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      You bring up a good point about profitability. The Cadillac sure makes all the enthusiasts happy with its RWD and V model. But how much money is Cadillac making with it and was it worth the resources it took to develop?

      • 0 avatar
        thebeelzebubtrigger

        Yes, the profitability aspect is an interesting consideration and it may be true that Ford makes out better by selling a small number of “tarted up Ford” Lincolns vs Cadillac’s CTS model — but Cadillac’s CTS gets some respect, whereas every model of Lincoln is still widely perceived as just another pimped-out Ford.

        What Ford needs is a unique, true luxury RWD platform just for a new T-Bird coupe/convertible and Lincoln sedan series, like they did back in ’61.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Caddy is a “halo” brand which is growing sales. With the reuse of other GM bits (such as the ‘Vette engine), they’re probably breaking even, if not turning some kind of “profit”.

        My sense is, if Caddy doesn’t actually lose (significant) money, and continue to build a “world-class” car, then they’re doing just fine.

        OTOH, if Caddy has the world-class bean-counted out of them by Cap’n Dan, then they suffer Lincoln’s fate…

      • 0 avatar

        According to what I read a couple of weeks ago, all three of the CTS-Vs are profitable. Most of the development costs are in the engine and those costs are shared with the Corvette program and other cars that carry variations of the supercharged LSx.

        Performance packages can be very profitable. When John Coletti ran Ford’s SVT program, there were only something like 33 people on the SVT team and those 33 people ended up selling over 150,000 very profitable cars.

        Niche vehicles can be profitable. Development costs are incremental and they can charge premium prices.

        It’s one thing to make an entirely new performance car, but there’s a reason why most of the car companies offer a performance brand like AMG, Jaguar’s R cars, Dodge’s SRT, etc. The cars are high profile, sell for a premium, and don’t cost nearly as much to develop as a standalone sports car.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        So basically, with the Caddy V and Camaro adding extra volume to the Corvette engine development cost, everybody wins.

        Nice!

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’m no huge fan of Obama, but W used Cadillac-based presidential limos before him.

    Second, someone, somewhere needs to define Lincoln. Are they going to be the car company of the 1961 Continental, or the car company of the MKX, Y and Z? I don’t see or haven’t heard of a cohesive design or mission statement from Ford on this.

    FWIW, GM has done a better job of redefining Cadillac with the Art and Science design theme. They occasionally riff on the past with tailfin like structure on some of the new cars, and maybe the boxy shapes remind one of the last time GM truly had things right. But, they really haven’t returned to the ‘let’s shamelessly ape the glorious past’ motif of some other car companies. Granted there are things (lots of them) that GM could do better with Cadillac, a real flagship being a great start.

    But, the CTS is gaining some traction, and is re-defining Cadillac’s image to a certain demographic. Time will tell how successful the other models will be, and if they will ever be a true competitor to the big luxury marques again.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Bill Clinton’s limo was a Cadillac, too. Looks like Bertel mixed up Bush 41 with Bush 43.

      (Don’t feel too bad, Bert. So did millions of American voters!)

      As for Lincoln: let me put it this way: I usually remember what the name of a car is when I look at it. I can look at a picture of a Chevy Cruze and say “oh, that’s a Cruze”, even though it’s pretty anonymous-looking. When I look at a modern Lincoln, I can’t tell you what letter comes after MK. I can tell you what Ford it’s based off of. That’s a problem. There’s no there there. They don’t have branding, and they don’t have product.

      • 0 avatar

        The Wall Street Journal’s fault. I cribbed it from there ….

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The evil Rupert Murdoch strikes again!

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @aristurtle: Are you sure? I swear that when I saw Clinton (back in early 1994-ish timeframe), he had a Lincoln. Of course, I don’t pay attention to when they replace limos, either.

        You’re spot on about the lack of memorable models. My wife pointed out a MKXYZ to me the other day, she kind of liked the styling. When asked what it was, I told her it was the Lincoln version of the Fusion. She understood exactly what car it was then.

        With all of the resources Ford has, I can’t understand why it would be so hard to ape the Lexus model, using a Fusion at the bottom (like current practice) and maybe an Australian Ford (suitably restyled) at the top of the line exclusive car.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Clinton got his Cadillac in late ’93, although GHWB’s old Lincoln Town Car based limo probably got used as a backup car at times.

        Nixon, Ford, and Carter used an armored Chrysler Imperial. Reagan used that Chrysler as well until after the attempted assassination, when he switched to a Cadillac.

        edit: Those four presidents were using the same car, by the way. Not “the same manufacturer” or “the same model” but the actual two armored limos that Nixon ordered worked for four administrations (admittedly with some upgrades every now and then). The tradition of replacing the Presidential limo each administration was started during Reagan’s presidency.

      • 0 avatar

        Aristurtle, the Hinckley attempted assassination on Reagan involved the Lincoln, not the Chrysler. I think the confusion comes from how the Wikipedia article is written, which on first glance seems to say that the Reagan shooting involved the Imperial.

        Here’s a photo from the day of the shooting and that ain’t no Chrysler:
        http://m1.ikiwq.com/img/xl/vl7jmrRE0kN8pq1WBUqrVa.jpg

        Compare it to the Imperial that the Secret Service had armored by Hess & Eisenhardt:
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/5757031492/sizes/l/in/photostream/

        The Reagan Lincoln is in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum, and if you go to their website you will see:

        Reagan Presidential Limousine
        On March 30, 1981, Ronald Reagan took refuge in this limousine’s interior to escape would-be assassin John Hinkley’s gunfire. Going into service under President Nixon, it is also the car in which President Ford was riding when an attempt was made on his life.

        The Ford Museum also has the Kennedy assassination limo, which LBJ had rebuilt as a bullet proof hardtop.

      • 0 avatar

        WordPress isn’t letting me edit the comment, but if you’d like to see the Reagan Lincoln limo as well as the Kennedy, Eisenhower, FDR and Teddy Roosevelt vehicles, I visited the Ford Museum in January and posted some pics here:

        http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=744

        Teddy had a real brougham, as in horse drawn.

      • 0 avatar
        Paul Richards

        Gee, why is it I can tell which is which with my eyes closed? Some of actually pay attention and are really into cars.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      Does a president have any say in the choice of presidential limousine? Or is that strictly a Secret Service procurement matter, as I would guess? My assumption is that the new chief comes in and is told at “orientation”, “this is your limo, Mr. President. No, it only comes in black, Sir.”

      (This is not a political jab at anyone and his/her opinion of GWB or BHO; I’m really interested to know.)

      • 0 avatar
        tced2

        I believe the President doesn’t choose the limo. There has been an unofficial arrangement that Cadillac and Lincoln alternate providing limos to the President. The change occurs at the change of administration. Of course, if a brand doesn’t have a platform that is capable of providing presidential-grade transportation then the other brand may be used. I also think that Lincoln has taken a “pass” on providing limos to recent administrations.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        As I recall, the last limo got introduced right before Obama took office, so, no, I don’t think they have much choice. If had his druthers, I think he might have gone with a stretched Chrysler 300 (he owned one before he ran for president).

        THAT would be a wicked presidential limo.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Sadly, FoMoCo execs are on record as saying they’re keeping their heads firmly up their rears, and sticking with the alphabet soup.

      I guess, when they’re at the tables, they like to gamble until every penny is gone.

      The Lincoln Fusion & Lincoln Edge aren’t bad cars, and the Lincoln 500 has presence. But it’d be a hell of a lot easier to keep things straight if they were named “Versailles”, “Aviator” and “Continental”…

    • 0 avatar

      All of the Art & Science designs have subtle tail fins. Look at the way the fender line meets the taillamps and then the tall vertical taillights. It’s more evocative and subtle, but it’s there and it’s been mentioned by Ed Welburn and others.

      You know it’s interesting. I watched the Autoline w/ Bob Lutz and he was talking about how GM would have all sorts of boxes to check off in terms of brand identity, like all Chevys had to have 5 spoke wheels and a chrome band up front for brand uniformity, before it would be handed off to styling to wrap it something. Form and proportion were secondary to the brand identifiers. I’d do it the opposite. Instead of having managers decide what the brand identifiers were, I’d have the creatives tell the managers what constituted the brand. The creatives are the ones with emotional investment in their work. I’ve spoken to them and I think that Harlan Charles, who heads Corvette engineering, and Tom Peters, who heads Camaro design, can do a better job defining those brands than an accountant. Hell, even marketing people can identify brands better than accountants.

      Lutz says that when he hired in at GM they had about 40 “core values” only one of which was “build good cars that people want to buy”.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Ronnie: I guess the Cadillacs all do have a ‘fin’ of sorts. I haven’t seen a STS in person lately (not my cup of meat) and the DTS isn’t so obvious, but it’s there in spirit.

      I’d agree with the creative folks defining the look and the brand. I don’t know if we can reasonably blame the accountants for every ill GM has suffered, though. I say this as a member of the creative class (graphic designer).

      After immigrating to the US from Germany, my father’s first car (when he could finally afford one) was a 1953 Cadillac. Kind of an audacious move for a man who was a DP just a few years earlier. Through this, I have a direct emotional connection to Cadillac and am cheering loudly for them. I have a lot more faith that Cadillac will be better managed in the near future than Lincoln.

      Unless Mr. Mulally is going to pull some incredible stuff out of his *ss shortly, I’m thinking Lincoln will be joining Mercury soon. GM has spent $4 billion in the last decade to get Cadillac this far. How much do you think Ford will really spend to get Lincoln up to date?

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        ah crap, that was a used 1953 Cadillac. Bought it in 1957, after living in the US for five years…

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        There is nothing wrong with having some brand “identity”. Having some features which are 90% common across the cars is a good idea.

        Just be sure it doesn’t strangle things. And really, forcing a Chevy to wear 5-spoke wheels and a stacked grille isn’t that bad of a constraint.

  • avatar
    thebeelzebubtrigger

    “The development of Volkswagen’s Phaeton was rumored to exceed $1 billion, and we all knew what that got Volkswagen.”

    Yes, the wildly successful Bentley Continental series.

    Other than that, good article! :)

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Isn’t the Bentley just as closely related to the Audi A8?

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Phaeton and Bentley use steel construction, the A8 is on the ASF “Audi Space Frame” aluminum platform.

        Granted, that’s all changing now that Audi has moved to a modular vehicle development system that allows for more mixing and matching of components and materials.

      • 0 avatar
        thebeelzebubtrigger

        It’s been awhile since I read about that, but ISTR the Phaeton and Continental were much closer in design, while the Phaeton and A8 just shared the aluminum construction tech more than actual design. The VW is basically a Continental but made of steel. Bentley Continentals have always been made of aluminum, or at least made with a high aluminum content.

        If that’s wrong, I’m sure someone will correct me.
        :)

      • 0 avatar
        thebeelzebubtrigger

        Can’t edit my post for some reason, but I wrote it wrong. It was the Bentley and A8 that shared aluminum construction technologies but not actual designs, while the Phaeton was basically a steel Continental.

        Or at least, that’s how I remember it…

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      How is it, by the way, that Lincoln and Bentley share the Continental nameplate?

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’d be happy (to start with) if they dropped the arcane naming conventions for their models. MK…now, which one is it, again? And yeah, having nothing (right now) but glorified Fords on the lot sure don’t help any.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      You got that right – nobody can keep them straight, and worse, nobody cares.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Amen! When a bunch of people who follow the car industry can’t keep the names straight, that should tell Ford something!

      • 0 avatar
        Paul Richards

        Lots of people get them straight and lots of people care. Quit making idiotic statements that make you look foolish.

      • 0 avatar

        sorry Paul but geeber is no idiot, he is 100% on the money. I have retailed more than 20,000 vehicles over 35 years, consider myself an expert, and I can’t keep them straight. it’s needlessly confusing and poor merchandising. reminds of when Buick took the best selling full size nameplate LeSabre and switched to Lucerne…dumb!

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Ford is getting platform advice from a GM guy?

    Isn’t that like my neighbor, who got foreclosed on and filed bankruptcy, giving me financial advice?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Not any more, they’re not.

      Ford was aping GM when they bought brand after brand after brand.

      Then spent Billions rehabbing Volvo, Jaguar, Aston, & Land Rover into credible companies, like GM’s folly with Saab, Saturn, & HUMMER.

      After Ford found they’d mortgaged themselves too deeply, they Oldsmobiled Mercury.

      So now they retrench with One Ford, and try to salvage Lincoln for pennies on the dollar.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Throwing out new models is useless. Someone at the top needs to step in with some balls and throw down the gauntlet: “Lincoln will represent X”. I don’t care if it’s the 1961 Continental with floaty suspension, but someone needs to ensure that Lincoln stands for something concrete and identifiable, otherwise it’s all for naught.

    Personally, I think the Continental concept car from 2003 is what they should aim for. Big, bold, classy and American. Don’t try for a Cadillac clone or direct competitor – make it distinctive, as new Caddys are, but in a unique Lincolnesque way.

    If they cannot do that then I agree: Lincoln should be relegated to a flagship trim line on Ford vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      +1000.

      Lincoln needs a philosophy, not “seven new models”. If Cadillac, with a debatable level of success, is going after BMW, then Lincoln needs to carve out a different niche–but carve, please. Comfortable, smooth, quiet, effortlessly powerful American vehicles, perhaps. Maybe we can’t have ’61 Continentals or ’70s Town Cars (or even modern-ish Town Cars) anymore, but surely there’s a way to build something that will give that feel of solidity and presence, with modern efficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Lincoln already is relegated to Ford’s flagship trim line.

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      Lincoln is only a trim line basing a luxury brand on POS car is stupid Volkswagen and Lexus built luxury models from scratch they didnt bling a POS and call it luxury Lincoln build at present the worlds fugliest car no surprise they dont sell Start with something good like the RWD Falcon chassis ang go from there not the crap Taurust

      • 0 avatar
        thebeelzebubtrigger

        Not a vbad idea, Bryce — they could do far worse than basing a new Lincoln on the Aussie RWD Falcon platform.

        For that matter, I surely would love to see a new Crown Vic successor (preferably called the Galaxie) based on that… screw Lincoln.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        “Lexus built luxury models from scratch”

        You mean like the top-selling Lexus ES 300, which shared *all* its sheet metal & glass with the Camry?

        Ford does that with the Lincoln Fusion & Edge.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        When did the Lexus ES300 share all its glass and sheetmetal with the Camry? I missed that. Try taking a look at the door windows, if you can’t actually visually process sheetmetal.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @CJ: SVX didn’t specify, but look at the early ES 300’s. The ES 250’s are even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        It’s the old “ES 300”. There’s an awful lot of Camry in that car – go see for yoursel!

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Maybe I was too subtle. My point was that you are wrong about the ES 300. It didn’t share all of its sheetmetal or glass with the Camry. When it comes to the ES 250, I’m less sure that there weren’t any shared panels or glass, but that isn’t what you wrote. You said the ES 300 shared *all* of its sheetmetal and glass with the Camry. If *all* really means none, then I’d have to say you were intentionally misleading. Personally, I’d think that windows, doors, hood, trunk, and fenders are glass and sheetmetal, but I guess that them being distinct doesn’t make your point. Like I said, check the side glass and pillars. If you have to make stuff up to make your point, you don’t have one.

      • 0 avatar
        Paul Richards

        First of all, learn to speak and write English. Secondly, just in case you don’t know, the Taurus, which I guess is what you were trying to say, happens to be one of the better quality cars in all the world. And thusly, so is the MKS.

    • 0 avatar

      The early ’90s Lincoln concepts, the 2002 Continental concept and the Lincoln Mark IX concept are fondly remembered and get mentioned in every thread about reviving the brand. I’ve said it before. Ford should put their Lincoln team in a room with a ’39 Lincoln Continental, a ’56 Mark II, a ’61 Continental, & a ’71 Town Car, and a Mark IV (and for Sajeev’s sake maybe a VIII) and tell them to come up with a design that doesn’t necessarily borrow styling themes but is as bold a statement as those earlier Lincolns were.

      If I was Ford, I’d survey people who are 35-55 whose parents drove Lincolns and ask them what the brand stood for. I’d also ask car enthusiasts since they seem to have a clue about brands and what they stand for. I bet the answer would be close to the models that I mentioned.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        “I’d survey people who are 35-55 whose parents drove Lincolns” is an excellent idea, or at least I think so because I fit into that group – not only that, but a friend of my parents’ was a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in the early 1970s and I was in the showroom a good number of hours.

        Our Lincoln was a 1972 former demonstrator with optional Copper Moondust Metallic paint and black “cavalry twill” vinyl roof. My favorite memory is of the high-backed rear seat with the regular (tuck-and-roll, as opposed to Town Car-style) black leather upholstery. The Continental was clearly and obviously something special relative to the large Mercury sedans, which were Fords with long wheelbases. It was also obviously much nicer than Cadillacs of the same era, inside and out. (I did get to drive it when I was a bit older.)

        Despite the predominance of coupes in your list, I don’t think a full-size luxury coupe is what people want these days, however. Also, as a driver I prefer to be able to see out quickly and easily in all directions – which is very unlikely in a ’72 Continental with its giant hood and rear blind spots.

        If it were up to me, I’d jettison the Lincoln name entirely – it’s musty in a way “Cadillac” never was. Just call them Continentals.

      • 0 avatar

        All the big Fords, Mercurys and Lincolns in the 1970s were built off different lengths of the same platform. Though the Continental was definitely a step up on the Marquis, the Marquis had a similar relationship with the Fords. My dad had a ’72 Monterey that he liked so much that he replaced it with a ’74 Grand Marquis. Though the Monterey was more Fordlike, the fully loaded Grand Marquis was all but a Lincoln. My best friend’s dad was driving Lincolns by that time, having switched from duece and a quarter Buicks, and I had other friends whose folks had LTDs. The GM was much closer to the Lincoln side than the Ford side. The Marquis was noticeably smoother and quieter than the Ford.

        Also, I hadn’t really thought of those cars as coupes, more as styling icons. The ’61 w/ suicide doors certainly wasn’t a coupe. Though the ’61 Continental design started off as Elwood Engel’s proposal for the Thunderbird. The “rocket bird” design won out, but Robert Macnamara had seen Engel’s drawings and suggested that they add two doors and make it a Lincoln.

  • avatar
    Hildy Johnson

    The key problem is that Lincoln exists on in North America. That’s not enough market to justify a serious investment in a truly independent line of cars.

    When BMW went upmarket, the only other big player was Mercedes, so it was easy for them to differentiate themselves with sportiness. Audi had to differentiate themselves from the comfy Benzes and the sporty BMWs and bet on hype and design, whereas Lexus chose reliability and value. It’s a crowded field now for any late-comers striving for global market share.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      And that’s different from Lexus & Acura & Infiniti in what way?

      Aren’t those US-only brands?

    • 0 avatar
      Hildy Johnson

      Lexus is sold globally. Infiniti is offered in Europe and other parts of the world, whereas Acura is essentially North American. Acura isn’t exactly thriving, is it?

      These three brands were built when America represented a much more significant share of the global market than it does now. To build or rebuild a brand now, one needs a global strategy. This is something the 3 German luxury brands have been doing right.

      Globally, Volvo, Jaguar and LR are much stronger brands than Lincoln, so when Ford sold off those brands, they essentially gave up competing in the luxury field.

      Which is just what Akerson said.

      • 0 avatar
        donkensler

        Ford f***ed up royally in the luxury segment during its ownership of Jaguar, LR, and Volvo in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Let’s see, there was the formation of PAG. As far as I could tell, the attitude of the folks in Irvine to Lincoln and Mercury was pretty much, “yeah, whatever”. There was a decision that Lincoln had to be a step below Jaguar, which left Lincoln as near-luxury (mmm… Buick) rather than luxury, competing at the same price points as (or even maybe a little lower than) Volvo. Then it was decided that Jaguar was to be a conservatory of late 50’s British design (XJ, S-type, X-type).

        The result of all of this (once JLR and Volvo had to go to raise cash) is that Lincoln is nowhere, with no mind-share in the American buying public, selling in numbers that aren’t sufficient to support a separate dealer body.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        I agree that the PAG was a failed experiment. Some good did come out of it, with Ford getting some great Volvo platforms to work with, and Jaguar building some of the best looking luxury cars of all time with their S-Type and XJs of the era. It’s unfortunate Ford was never able to reap the rewards of the investment into Jaguar and Land Rover, because the infusion of cash and engineering did most of the work to bring the reliability of the brands up from the basement to where they are today.

        The decision to position Lincoln below Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover probably damaged the brand more than anything else. Ford’s decision to stick with Lincoln makes me very happy though – in the end, an American company should stand behind the brand that has the most history here. Jaguar might currently have more panache amongst the wealthy, but Lincoln is intertwined with American auto history, and deserves a fighting chance to come back stronger than ever.

  • avatar

    “Every president from Calvin Coolidge through George H.W. Bush rode in a Lincoln limousine. The new prez defected to a Government Motors Beast.”

    Wrong in all important points.

    Coolidge didn’t have an official car, but rode to his inauguration in a Cadillac.

    Roesevelt was the first with a car custom-built as a presidental vehicle, that was a Lincoln. Lincolns continued Through Nixon, who in 1973 got a Chrysler. Regan got a Cadillac in 1983. Bush the Elder got a Lincoln in 1989, which Clinton replaced with a Cadillac in 1993. Cadillacs have continued through to today.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The first official White House cars were ordered by President William Howard Taft in 1909. They were Pierce-Arrows.

      I remember seeing a photo of a Pierce-Arrow with government plates that was taken in Vermont during the 1920s. The caption said that the car was used by President Calvin Coolidge during his visit to Vermont (his home state) during the summer. Before the advent of widespread air conditioning, everyone who could leave Washington, D.C., during the summer months did so.

      In the photos taken during Reagan’s assassination attempt, I’m pretty sure that the car he was entering – which is visible in the background – is an early 1970s Lincoln Continental limousine.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Proposed presidential rides:

      Kennedy: Lincoln Continental…hardtop model…
      Johnson: The truck from “The Beverly Hillbillies”
      Nixon: Prison bus
      Ford: Nixon’s leftovers
      Carter: Dodge Aspen (ah, the malaise…)
      Reagan: M-1 tank that sells for twice what it should
      Bush I: Volvo 240 (every good liberal should own one)
      Clinton: Corvette (yes, you CAN get laid driving one)
      Bush II: Hummer (you felt tough buying it and dumb the rest of the time)
      Obama: whatever Michelle tells him to drive…or else…

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    I personally hope the new Lincolns are stunning and a runaway sales success, if only to rub Akerson’s nose in it.

    As far as a “halo” or “signature” Lincoln first…no. Those are unprofitable unobtanium. Cadillac got it right. Get a core vehicle (or two) which expresses the brand and can be sold in volume, then work on your halo. Without CTS and Escalade sales and profits, a proper signature vehicle isn’t possible, nor is it relevant. Cadillac still does not have their S-Class competitor in market yet, because the bottom line won’t be improved by one at this time (or ever, realistically).

    And yes, do away with the awful model names of late and go back to something with personality and memorability. MKZ? MKX? MKWTF? MKOMG? Seriously, move on.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    Seven new models, huh? Hm. How many different models does the Ford brand sell in North America right now? Not counting vans or pickup trucks?

    Nine.

    Now, subtract out the Mustang and the Fiesta; they aren’t good candidates to get Lincolned.

    Hey, look at that! Seven new Lincoln models!

    (I’d love to be wrong, but somehow I doubt that that’s going to happen.)

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Ok, lets look at the luxury sedan market (ignoring the SUV offerings).
    Lexus – mostly RWD.
    Mercedes Benz – RWD.
    BMW – RWD.
    Infinti – RWD.
    Cadillac – RWD.
    Jaguar – RWD.
    Lincoln – apart from the soon to be deceased Towncar – FWD.

    See a pattern emerging? I know people harp on about it, and Ford seem to think that it doesn’t matter, but it does. Ford need to invest in a flexible RWD platform that can be used to underpin several different Lincolns (sedans and ‘personal luxury coupes’)and stop tarting up Fusions and Taurus’ and calling them Lincolns.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian E

      Lexus – mostly RWD.

      Wrong. Lexus cars are mostly FWD by sales and half FWD by models. You’ve also conspicuously left off Audi and (we can argue about this one) Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        I was refering to the Sedans at the top of my post… the IS, GS and LS are RWD – only the Camry based ES is FWD – hence mostly. Yes a majority of their sales are FWD based SUV’s, hybrids and the ES – but does the ES alone outsell the other RWD sedans?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I believe Lexus’s sales leader in the U.S. is the RX, which is FWD/AWD, and then, of course there are all of the FWD ES’s as the second most popular. Interestingly, though, the first Lexus car in the U.S., the LS 400, was an RWD clone of the Mercedes S-class.

        I think there’s general agreement that Audi is half a notch below Mercedes and BMW in “prestige” and, that Acura is a full notch below. When Audis first came to the U.S. market, if memory serves, they were priced in the vicinity of Volvo and Saab, not Benz. And, of course, BMW’s initial foray in to the U.S. market was the relatively small 1600/2002 and were marketed as the more sporting alternative to the Benz (and were also cheaper and less luxurious).

    • 0 avatar

      ES used to go head to head with IS, but these days IS is lagging… It pulls about 70% of ES sales month to month. I think the price differential makes IS to sag in sales. Also, IS is not large inside, so lard-butt buyers have to pass on it. It fits a healthy person like a glove though. Very good ergonomics, which is how they closed the sale for us (for 2010 model).

      Personally, I’m ok with FWD luxury car if it actually has the luxury. Caddie used to sell a model like that, in TownCar class no less. It was not a blinged-out Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I love the IS, but the back seat is smaller than that of 4 door Civics. You don’t need to be a lard butt to want head and leg room. Is there some new cult of health snobs that are less than 5’6″?

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        The current IS is smaller than an E46 Bimmer in the rear seat, and the Bimmer’s about the size of an ’03-’08 Toyota Corolla back there.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Are they really surprised at there current predicament? Bland clone look alike FWD based sedans with no character whatsoever. Meaningless letter names that do nothing but confuse the general public. V6 engines where the best from Germany, Asia and Korea are offering V8’s. Poor advertising. Lack of relevant product. But some of the blame goes out to Joe public. Things have never been more messed up and convoluted than they are today. Peoples tastes vary from minute to minute with gas prices jumping all over the place, tree-huggers convincing us that the world is going to end tomorrow if we don’t consume less fuel etc.

    There are still traditional customers left out there that have aged and want a nice quiet riding soft flashy car with plenty of space and a nice smooth V8 under hood. Very few of those types of cars left. The young are all over the map. Then there are the Soccer moms and families that need space and the farmers that need there trucks and brawn. Toys have truly become a luxury as things like personal luxury coupes, roadsters, convertibles, V8 performance options etc have either disappeared or are few and far between. Which brings us to Lincoln and Cadillac, two old traditional brands that are trying oh so hard to shed there stodgy images and be a BMW alternative for a budget. Well newsflash now more than ever folks are looking for something new or different that isn’t trying to be something else. If someone wants a Bimmer then that is what they will buy.

    Lincoln and Cadillac need to re-invent themselves into a desirable car company that folks aspire to and want to buy not settle on because it’s cheaper or looks similar. I firmly believe that both lost there way recently because they are trying to copy something they are not. Here is a novel concept- why not try what Hyundai did and make a super sedan with class leading features, powertrains, handling/ride dynamics and sell it for a bit less than the competitors BUT style it to look like a Lincoln or Cadillac with class leading quality and fit/finish standards. make it a real eye catcher instead of a clone. It’s not hard guys.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Richards

      For the last time, the Lincoln names are not meaningless. Read my lips. THEY DO MEAN SOMETHING! MKS means Mark Sedan. MKZ means Mark Zephyr. MKX means Mark Crossover and MKT means Mark Touring. As far as V8 goes, you don’t need it when you’ve got the 3.5 Ecoboost V6. Simple as that. And MKS and MKX have plenty of character. And the MKS is indeed a nice quiet riding soft flashy car with plenty of space and a nice smooth 3.5 Ecoboost V6 under hood.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It is really hard to care much about Lincoln anymore.

    I wish them luck on their new strategy, but I’m never going to want one.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    As I think about it Jaguar’s current lineup is something akin to what most of us think Lincoln’s should be yet Jaguar’s sales numbers are all but non-existent. Perhaps a lesson learned by Ford on how to spend a lot of money redesigning a luxury car lineup and not see any sales success? Guaranteed Ford is making profit selling the current Lincoln lineup and Jaguar is losing money.

  • avatar

    I could take the products they have now and whip Lexus.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Take a Mustang GT chassis, add 2 doors, leather, taut sheetmetal, and gizmodgetry. Leave the stick shift. Sell buckets of them as an A4/3 series/C klasse competitor. It does not take $1B to do this, but it does take a lick of common sense. Marketing brilliance would be a niec touch, but it would take the $75.26 of engineering and production time to strap the Boss 302 kittings under this ‘new’ lincoln and have it eat M3’s on the same demographic turf.

  • avatar
    mountainman

    Remember the Ford 427 concept? They put some of the design into the Fusion, but really, bling it up with a Lincoln grille and I think you have a winner. Oh, and no stablemate match over at Ford – Badge Engineering bad…..

    http://www.supercars.net/cars/2241.html

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Funny, I really liked the 427 when they first showed it. But now for some reason I can barely tell it from the new Chrysler 300 at a glance. Hmmm….

  • avatar
    200k-min

    What was the back story to the development of the LS? Way back just before that thing was released I thought – “finally Lincoln gets it.” Not that it was perfect but it sounded good on paper; near 50/50 weight distribution, RWD, available manual tranny, decent styling (even if it was a BMW rip off). Had they stuck with that theme and constantly improved it I think they would have something today. Sure we look back on that model today knowing it’s history, but had Ford truly invested in that model by today it should have been a decent alternative to the likes of the 5-Series, A6, GS350, etc. Instead it was left to rot on the vine and get sent out to pasture.

    Today the luxury market is flooded and I think Ford could do just fine by leaving the scene. That said, there’s pride on the line and when someone at Government Motors tells them to kill a brand of course Ford has to respond with something. Irony is, my bet is a revamped Lincoln will steal sales from Cadillac more than anyone else. Then again, we are just one generation away from a potential 180 degree shift of opinion about luxury vehicles.

    Personally I think Lincoln should read the history about how Lexus was brought to N. America. They need to rebuild a reputation, thus these new vehicles have to be good – very very good – and sold cheap – even at a loss – to build a customer base. Seven models seems extreme, but 3-4 would work. Something to compete with the 3-Series, a large sedan, and a RX competitor would be a good start. Build the brand and never ever take a break.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      They released a good model and then they just let it sit there and rot, with the occasional half-assed cosmetic upgrade, because they were too lazy and/or cheap to spend money on improving it. Without real updates, sales eventually tapered off, and the model was quietly dropped.

      Quick, how many other Ford vehicles does this description fit? I’m seeing the Ranger here, at least.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        From what I’ve read, Lincoln wasn’t making any money off of the LS. The platform was expensive to develop, but the prices Lincoln was charging weren’t sufficient to make it profitable. Hence, the neglect.

  • avatar
    Birddog

    I see new Lincs on the road but all I really see is a Ford. People still gripe about GM “badge engineering” from the 80s and 90s, what’s Ford going to do? Really “badge engineering” is all they have right now.

    Lincoln isn’t dead, purgatory maybe but not dead. And I don’t think anybody should listen to a thing Akerson says. I get the feeling he’s going to be very wrong about a lot of things in the near future.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Throw half of that money towards Ford Oz to develope the falcon as LHD and stretch it. You could then import them (or build them in NA). That would be a car that doesn’t owe anything to previous Fords,Volvo’s or Jaguar’s. Looks different, RWD, takes 4, 6 & 8’s. IRS, 4 Doors. Spend a few more dollars you get the Territory’s AWD plus a diesal if you really want it. can be had as a manual or a 6 speed ZF auto. Ford want to play one world, one car start spreading the love around the various design houses they own and come up with a Cadillac killer.

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      EXactly FORD NA is too stoopid to build good cars like GM NA no ideas at all the Falcon is far superior to anything in NA and could easily become a range topper if done outside the US that how the CTSV started outside the US where the brains are

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    A couple of years ago, I was involuntarily “upgraded” into a Lincoln MKZ. When I sat in the car, I sez to myself, “you gotta be kidding.” When I drove, I sez to myself “you ARE kidding.” Indifferent handling with unyielding suspension; hard plastics on the dash and doors. GMAFB!

    Only reason to buy the MKZ over the Fusion is if you want the 3.5 liter engine and don’t want the blingy Fusion “sport.”

    Baruth likes the Lincoln version of the Flex, with the boosted motor: maybe that has some potential.

    And, no, we don’t need another “sport sedan.” We have too many already.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The 2010 refresh of the MKZ did a lot to address the interior issues with the original (though I liked the chrome squares in the first version better).

      Yes, it’s still a Fusion underneath, but the Fusion is an excellent platform to start from, and the MKZ scored 2nd out of all vehicles of any class or brand in the 2011 JD Power long term reliability study.

  • avatar
    SV

    I don’t think Lincoln’s problem is that they’re FWD-based, it’s that they’re still too obviously similar to the Fords they’re based on, or don’t do enough to justify their higher price. Case in point: the MKS. It has completely different sheetmetal and interior trim, and yet it doesn’t look or feel a whole lot more special than the Taurus (in fact I consider the Taurus a bit more attractive all around).

    I think Lincoln could make a case for itself as America’s Audi, in a sense. FWD-based (though perhaps AWD-only would be a useful further distinction) but with world-class interior quality and classy exterior design drawing from the early ’60s Continental.

    The MKZ is a decent car but it’s still too obviously a Fusion underneath, and there are too many (as in more than none at all) Fusion bits inside. Its sales are rising already though, mostly on the strength of its hybrid variant I think – Ford should take the hybrid idea and run with it, perhaps by making the next MKZ hybrid-only. It also needs to be as differentiated from the Fusion as the ES is from the Camry – if they can pull that off (and early reports are that they will), and keep the likely superb ride-handling balance of the next Mondeo it’ll be based off of, it could be a very attractive entry-lux sedan.

    The MKX also needs to be more differentiated, but like the MKZ I don’t think being FWD-based will hurt it – the Lexus RX and Caddy SRX sell well and are both FWD-based.

    In fact, I think the car that’s closest to what Lincoln should be is the MKT (and no, I’m not getting my letters confused). It’s totally differentiated from the Flex inside and out, and actually looks and feels like a luxury product; especially inside, where it’s superbly finished. The only thing Lincoln needs to do differently for the next MKZ, MKX and whatever else is to actually make it attractive on the outside (the MKT’s cabin should be copied for all future Lincolns though; it’s that good).

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      I spent some time with the MKS, MKZ (2010 update), and MKT while they were in development and the T is by far my favorite–I actually saw Ford/Lincoln responding to and FIXING problems during the teething process, long before they got to customers. This is a decent car. The toys are nice, it’s quick, it’s quiet, and you can fit a Catholic family in it. If it was prettier (and I don’t dislike the baleen grins, fwiw), it could easily replace the Navigator; functionally, it absolutely does. I did work on the Ecoboost Flex at the same time, often on a side-by-side basis. As far as the stuff the customer sees goes, there ain’t a lot in common.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The MKS is also very different from the Taurus inside and out. The Taurus actually ended up having the more useful trunk, but the interior fit and finish and materials quality of the MKS gives vehicles costing 10 or 20 grand more a run for their money.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        And the MKS feels significantly bigger on the inside. I like the Taurus, but I’m amazed at how snug the cockpit is given its size (I’m 6’2″, granted). Very little similarity in the feel behind the wheel. The Taurus is nice, but the MKS is a much nicer place to be in comparison, even if they can be optioned similarly.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “According to White House historians at the Wall Street Journal, every president from Calvin Coolidge through George H.W. Bush rode in a Lincoln limousine.”

    Whoever came up with that line is either ignorant of the facts or so completely biased as to willfully ignore the facts. I guess that the supposed switch from Lincoln to GM fits into the Evil Government Motors riff, but it is flat out wrong. Facts are stubborn things, and people don’t get to just make them up.

    Obama’s predecessor rode around in a “Cadillac” (I use quotes because it is actually a custom vehicle built upon a Chevy heavy duty pickup truck platform). Wikipedia has a good, a-political overview of the history of the US’ official Presidential car: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_State_Car_%28United_States%29

    Summary of models years and brands of the Presidential car:

    1969 – Lincoln

    1972 – Chrysler and Lincoln (Nixon ordered two different ones)
    Said 1972 Lincoln was heavily modified many times and was in use through 1983. Reagan was shot at and injured in that Lincoln

    1983 – Reagan ordered a new Cadillac (which is presently on display in the Reagan museum)

    1989 – Lincoln for HW Bush

    1993 – Cadillac for Clinton

    2001 – Cadillac for GW Bush

    2005 – Another Cadillac for GW Bush (a present to himself for winning a second term ??? )

    2006 – Cadillac upgraded slightly and still in use. This is Obama’s current official ride.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    $1 Billion???? Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!1

    1 billion isn’t enough to fix ONE Lincoln model….and they plan on introducing seven new or refreshed (read: rebadged) models for 1 billion.

    Akerson was right, Lincoln is a dead brand walking.

    They pretty much are dead now…they are nothing more than mediocre rebadges…..of mediocre appliances. And this plan just says they are going with the status quo.

    Ford needs to get a clue. And Mulally needs TO GO!

    I’ll wait for the dealership employee to tell us how this is a brilliant plan……….

    • 0 avatar

      “Akerson was right.”

      You heard it here first, folks… and also likely the absolute very last time anyone will ever write those words.

      (I don’t blame you for hiding behind a screen name. I wouldn’t want my actual name associated with such drivel either.)

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      And Cadillac is…?

      And Buick is…?

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Doing OK.

        Eating Mercury’s & Lincoln’s lunch.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “Eating Mercury’s & Lincoln’s lunch.”

        Well, apart from Saab, that could be said of pretty much any automotive brand. Besides, who says Ford needs an upmarket brand, anyway? Even Hyundai sells a $60k RWD luxobarge under its own brand.

        Ford should axe Lincoln and use any cost savings of running that irrelevant brand to keep improving the rest of the Ford lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “And Mulally needs TO GO!”

      Surely you jest. Oh, wait, I forgot, you just heap scorn and hatred on anything Ford simply because it has to do with Ford. Yawn.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        NO…I refuse to wear blue blinders. I call out stupid business decisions when I see them. A second grader would know that you cannot turn a MODEL around for a billion let alone SEVEN…and a brand.

        Ford has their head so far up their ass, they cannot make a good business decision if their LIFE depended on it.

      • 0 avatar
        John Horner

        Silvy, I was responding to your assertion that Mulally needs to go. Name me one current automotive executive who has done a better job of turning around a struggling automotive company than Mulally has done. Use objective measurements please (market share, unit sales, profitability, etc.). Ford was in dire shape when Alan was brought on board and has come through one of the toughest periods in the marketplace in greatly improved health by all objective measures.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      There is no way to support Mulally needing to go. His leadership saved Ford from having to beg the government for money and has led to incredibly gains in quality and reliability in Ford products across the board. If GM had wrangled Mulally instead of Maximum Bob we very well may have seen the fates of the two companies reversed a couple years ago.

      I do agree that 1 billion won’t be enough in the long run, but Ford isn’t saying that this investment will cure all of Lincoln’s ills. It’s all about progress, and baby steps work. Even if a Lincoln flagship that put the S-Class and 7-Series to shame were developed, Lincoln wouldn’t be able to ask the $80,000+ necessary to sell it profitably right now. There’s a difference between badge engineering and platform sharing, and as long as these new Lincoln models are sufficiently differentiated from their Ford donor cars, they should have increased success in the market. If Lincoln is able to make more profit off of a modest investment, it will be able to reinvest some of that money into unique platforms in the future.

  • avatar
    George B

    Lincoln needs at least one big RWD car with real luxury car proportions like a BMW 7 series. Long hood with front wheels closer to the bumper than the door hinges. A car with a profile not unlike the Team Opulence—We Has It S500 that won last weekend’s Lemons race. Even beat down to $500 with a giraffe welded to it’s roof, that Mercedes S500 looks more like a real luxury car than anything Lincoln currently sells.

  • avatar
    ehaase

    Ford has made it clear it will not develop any RWD platform for North America besides Mustang. I think Lincoln should drop the MK names. The MKS should be restyled to look more like a modernized 1990 through 1997 Town Car and put on a longer wheelbase version of D3 and be renamed Town Car or Continental. The MKT and Navigator should be replaced by an Explorer derivative renamed Navigator. The MKX should be renamed Aviator. The MKZ should be renamed Zephyr or Sentinel. There should not be Focus or Escape derivatives. I would prefer RWD platforms but it’s not going to happen.

  • avatar
    Joss

    GM has spent over $4 billion on Cadillac, and doesn’t have all that much to show for it.

    Maybe that’s it – Ford’s billion $ ulterior motive – gamble the competition will also throw away while they gain domain in lower segments… hey it’s about politics and strategy too ya know.

  • avatar
    ajla

    People saying Lincoln doesn’t need a flagship and then using the ES and RX as examples might need to look back at the history of the Lexus brand.

    The LS and ES were released at the same time, and for the first few years anyway, the LS far outsold the ES. The good reputation of the LS flagship made Lexus an aspirational brand, and suddenly people were lining up to buy the lower priced ES just so they could have a car with a stylized “L” on the grille. The RX came out long after Lexus had established itself as a luxury player.

    My point here is that the current Lincoln lineup is reasonably competitive with its present competition, but not too many people really want to own a Lincoln.

    I don’t think Lincoln needs seven new vehicles, they need just one killer halo flagship to re-establish themselves as an aspirational luxury brand. Even if this flagship doesn’t sell in huge numbers, its ability to change Lincoln’s brand perception would be worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      carsinamerica

      This is a good point. The LS 400 and ES 250 arrived at once, in 1990. In 1992, they debuted the SC coupe and redesigned the ES. Then the line expanded from there. The presence of the flagship LS lent credibility to the brand, and thus to the more pedestrian ES model.

      The VW Phaeton allusion in the article is a reminder of how the halo approach can go wrong. However, combine the lessons of the Phaeton and the LS 400. The Lexus aped Mercedes in styling, with Toyota precision and reliability. It couldn’t out-perform the Merc, and the ambiance might not have been there either, but it was clear what they were aiming at. Toyota bet that a luxury brand could sell a flagship that looked a lot like the industry standard, was reliable, and cheaper than the competition. Where VW went wrong, I would argue, is in believing that there was a substantial market for an opulent car that looked exactly like an inflated Passat and had a VW badge to match, but with a Mercedes-sized sticker price. There wasn’t.

      To my way of thinking the key lessons from these two examples are:

      1. A luxury flagship had best have branding to match. A Lincoln at least has some luxury brand history behind it, even if the company is mostly a purveyor of tarted-up Fords. It will be interesting to see if the value/quality/feature model of the Equus is enough to defeat its badging as a Hyundai.

      2. A luxury flagship has to look special. It can either ape the competition, as the LS 400 did nicely, or it can be the subject of aping, as the LS 460 is today, or it can do its own weird thing, as does the Audi A8. It must not, though, look like something much further down the food chain, as did the Phaeton.

      3. Total flagship sales are less important than the creation of a coherent, believable brand image. Enthusiasts deride the Cadillac DeVille, but the DeVille was the exemplar of Cadillac’s brand ethos in the pre-CTS era, for both good and ill. Brand cohesion depends less on a “corporate-look grille” and more on the features and qualities behind the brand.

      Expanding on point #3, this hypothetical Lincoln doesn’t necessarily have to have six-wheel-drive or a V-24 or suicide doors or whatever else to stand out. It just has to deliver a clear message about what Lincoln wants to be. That means, unfortunately, that Ford has to define — in advance — how high it wants Lincoln to aim. If Lincoln is to compete with the Acuras and Volvos of the world, then a V-6 sedan the size of a 5-Series will do nicely. If they want to play for the big stakes, then it has to be larger, and a V-8 is probably needed. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match, either: it won’t be quite as good as a 7-Series/S-Class/LS, but it won’t cost as much as one, either. Lincoln can’t hope to sell even a few $80,000 cars.

      None of this is blindingly insightful, I’ll admit, but it bears pointing out, given the number of people who think that a car with a given platform, given engine, and specific door configuration is the magic bullet for Lincoln. The magic bullet is any car that defines Lincoln’s brand — and has a brand definition that cannot be instantly outstripped by three or four rivals to an embarrassing degree — and tells the world what Lincoln and its owners want to be. Then, like Lexus and post-80s Jaguar, you work backward and downmarket from there. The other catch for Lincoln is that it sadly has a number of models on the market already, some or all of which won’t neatly fit this image.

      A last note: it had best be a sedan. History and legacy of the Mark coupes aside, nobody buys personal luxury coupes anymore. Mercedes and BMW only build them to humor a relatively small base of rich clientele, and because they look pretty in brochures and are based on existing platforms. Cadillac’s Eldorado was the essence of the breed, but people stopped buying them. No coupe can save Lincoln. Period.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    If Ford wanted to be a serious competitor in the luxury game, they should have kept Jaguar. Yeah, it was a money pit for decades and they were desperate for cash when they sold it, but their investment was just starting to pay off. Today Jag has incredible style, credible tech and a major global presence, all things Lincoln will never have.

    Right now, Lincoln is what Mercury should have been. And frankly, given the cost of rebuilding a brand from scratch and how small the payoff is, that’s probably where Lincoln belongs now – any major investment is a waste of Ford’s time and resources. Just look at Cadillac, after a decade of “Art & Science,” they still only have two competitive products, along with a string of duds. And with products like the critical “Won’t blow the doors off” the competition ATS and the step-backwards XTS flagship, things aren’t going to get better anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Only problem with Jaguar is they’re hardly selling anything. It amazes me how few cars they sell given their current line up. Without question the Jaguar brand has immensely more panache than Lincoln so if Jaguar can’t sell in any kind of reasonable numbers where does that leave Lincoln?

      Fact of the matter is it was Ford’s money that developed Jaguar’s current line up and if Ford still owned Jaguar they’d still be losing money on it.

      I think most of us would agree that Jaguar currently has a competitive stylish line up yet the cars do not sell. I’m sure that fact has not escaped Ford as they move forward with the disaster that Lincoln has become.

  • avatar
    Robert Fahey

    Reinventing a senior citizen brand means appealing to younger buyers, so get ready for ads featuring young professional guys with shoe polish stubble and “dude” narrators — like this one from Buick:

  • avatar
    naif

    Akerson has been breathing to much of that old stale GM air in the ren-cen.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    A billion dollars? Wow, the price of Holy Water has really gone up. How much would it cost ford to rip that ‘my touch’ crap out of all their vehicles? That would be money better spent.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    I find it ironic that the nation’s first black president didn’t insist on a Lincoln as a homage to the great emancipator.

  • avatar
    ccttac

    Ford sure has the engineering, design, and manufacturing talent to do whatever they want to. Of course, the hardest part is to decide what the product should be.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Ford already has a platform for Lincoln. It’s called the Flex, a rectangular and tallish profile appropriate for a lux sedan that makes a statement. Re-skin it with traditional Lincoln styling touches and a conventional trunk, install a different dash and sumptuous appointments, and use the boosted engine. A movable glass partition between the front and back seats would be distinctive touch and popular for livery service. Call it–do I dare?–the Town Car.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    One of Lincoln’s biggest hurdles in its quest to go upmarket is the fact that it’s already behind Ford in doing so. Ford has gone way upmarket in just the past five years, and if your acquaintance with Ford isn’t more recent than 2000-2003 or so, you might be amazed at the shift in just the interior material quality and design, to cite just one parameter. Fit and finish, NVH, and powertrain are all vastly improved for Ford but given its purported upmarket position, that makes them only incremental improvements for Lincoln.

    Content is the biggest problem. Ford is putting what should probably be Lincoln-only toys in its mainstream models. Adaptive cruise, collision warning and brake tensioning systems, cross-traffic alerts, auto-park, blind spot warnings (and arguably MyFord Touch)–these are features that differentiate luxury cars from the mainstream. I understand Ford’s need to deploy them in its upmarket trim levels, but in a lot of ways it’s at Lincoln’s expense as well as the competition’s.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      If Ford didn’t offer the premium content in Ford cars other manufacturers would leaving Ford at a competitive disadvantage. That is simply how high technology evolves, continually being made available in non-luxury vehicles.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I think -billion dollar Akerson decoy- keep GM busy pumping Cadillac while blue oval snatch market share in the other domestic segments.

    Sacrificial Lamb. Ford’s prepared to take a gamble with Lincoln and careth not if the barge floats or founders.

  • avatar

    Build the best car in the world and I will buy it.

  • avatar

    $140M per vehicle over 3 years. That’s enough to design some new plastic bits and keep the lights on, but not much else.

    Lincoln 2014 = Mercury.

  • avatar
    delpiero1980

    Aren’t Lincolns already distinctive enough from Fords?
    The ’98 Navigator was essentially a re-badge Expedition especially the interior. Today’s Lincolns even thought they are re-badged Fords, they are very different in style both inside and out from their Ford counterparts. The MKZ doesn’t look at all like the Fusion from the outside and especially the interior. Same goes to the MKS/Taurus siblings they don’t look at all similar, so I don’t know how this new strategy is any different to the current strategy.
    There is nothing wrong with using the same platforms and similar power-trains. The A3 is essentially a VW Golf and yet they are very different vehicles.
    What Lincoln needs to do is change its design language as it’s very unattractive and grotesque especially the fugly waterfall grill.
    They need coupes, sedans, 4 door coupes, convertibles, full/medium/small- SUV/crossovers. They have the resources to do it, but they will need more than a $1billion.
    I have faith in Alan Mulally!

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Richards

      The grills on the MKS and MKX are gorgeous. The problem with the MKT grill is 2 fold. It’s too big and the horizontal bar through the middle destroys its looks. Almost the same for the MKZ. Get rid of the horizontal bar and reshape it a bit. But the basic concept of modernizing the ’41 Continental Cabriolet split wing bow wave grill is a sound one if done correctly as in the case of the MKS and MKX. In fact, the grill on the MKS could be just a tad larger (not too much) and it would be perfect. To say it’s very unattractive is just plain wrong. It blows away the egg crate look and it’s a step up in class than the non-split waterfall look.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Even FWD might work if it’s “bespoke”

    Imagine a modern 1966 Olds Toronado style FWD. Improve on that with V8 engine behind front axle for minimal overhang (and prestigious long axle-to-dash ratio). Perhaps even make it body-on-frame?

    Make it a 4-door sedan with suicide rear doors. With completely flat floor, column shifter and 40/60 split front bench seat (all headrests except the driver’s are motorized and retract when seat is unoccupied). It would be “iconic,” like no other car in the world, and provides supreme interstate cruising comfort for up to six full-sized adults.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      That would actually be quite awesome, but there’s a chance only you and I would buy it,(and a few Citroen enthusiasts,) but I don’t have the money. (not that they sell Lincolns in Norway anyway)

  • avatar
    obruni

    Lincoln does not necessarily need bespoke platforms. differentiation has to be vastly improved, particularly in the engine department.

    the Navigator needs to die

  • avatar

    This is pretty much what Ford has always been doing with Lincoln.

    They’re just announcing an investment in it, but nothing earth-shattering here, it’s probably to please dealers more than anything else.

    Nothing short of bespoke cars and platforms will turn the tide for Lincoln. Then again GM has invested billions into Cadillac over the past decade with dedicated platforms and though image is much better than it has been sales aren’t stellar from where they were.

    The last Lincolns I can think of that were very well differentiated were the Aviator and Navigator, both based on Ford trucks but with different body panels and interior parts throughout. I found the original Aviator to be quite nice, much nicer than it’s Explorer sibling.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Just a short matter of time before there are no standalone Lincoln dealers. The combination of killing Mercury and Lincoln’s meager volume makes a standalone Lincoln dealership a money losing proposition. Ford’s announcement a couple of weeks ago that Lincoln dealerships either needed to spend $1mm to update or take a buyout was Ford’s way of ending Lincoln & former Mercury standalone dealerships. A much less expensive route than GM took buying out Oldsmobile dealers but then Ford had the advantage of two franchises in each store. When Ford killed Mercury they effectively eliminated all LM standalone stores. Ford intends to market Lincolns through select Ford dealerships. After the dust settles and the Lincoln stores are all gone watch Ford reduce the $2mm upgrade requirement for Ford dealers that want to sell Lincolns.

    While Ford’s path forward with Lincoln won’t gain any appreciable marketshare it will be profitable because of the minimal expense Ford incurs offering Lincoln models based on Ford products built on the same assembly lines as the Ford product.

    From Ford’s business profitability standpoint they made the right move with Lincoln. From the standpoint of re-establishing Lincoln’s viability as a player in the luxury car market they will not but the brand is already so damaged it’s probably quite an accomplishment on Ford’s part to continue to profit from Lincoln.

    As I’ve said on other posts, there is no business case for Ford spending the money it would take to produce exclusive Lincoln models. Lincoln is gone as a contender in the luxury car market. The handwriting was probably on the wall several years ago when Ford closed the Wixom, MI Lincoln assembly plant.

  • avatar
    Paul Richards

    Z in MKZ stands for Zepyhr. X stands for Crossover. And while we’re at it, because I’m sick of people saying that the MK names don’t mean anything, don’t stand for anything, they do! The MKS stands for Mark Sedan and the MKT means Mark Touring.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      You must be one of the ten people in the country that know what the alphabet soup nomenclature actually stands for. It is totally confusing for everybody else.

      • 0 avatar
        Paul Richards

        Not if you did just a tiny bit of homework. The significance of the Lincoln naming is actually more sensable than a lot of other car makers who use letters. It’s the legendary “MARK”, followed by one letter that equates to what type of vehicle it is. Not too hard.

      • 0 avatar

        sorry Paul but I must disagree. the alpha numerics is horrbile marketing. remember G3, G5, G6, G8? Mark and Town are great names that would be recognizable and have equity. lettered nameplates just aren’t anywhere near as good. the sales prove it so.

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