By on April 4, 2012

There was a time when Ford had the luxury equivalent of three little pigs.

I’m not sure if Jaguar, Lincoln and Volvo were the industry equivalent of straws, sticks and bricks. But they were by all measures an ungodly mess of marques that bled billions out of Ford’s coffers by 2007.

Something had to be done. Enter Alan Mulally who blew out two of the brands, and only kept Lincoln after a Deliverance level of squealing by managers and executives at Ford.

In today’s exercise, you will need to pick one brand for Ford to keep. Yes, crystal balls and Monday morning quarterbacks are a common thing at most automotive blogs.  So instead of shooting from the hip of the modern day, let’s look back to the time that was the late, late, late Bush era and figure out which brand offered the most potential.

Volvo had once been a leader in functional, safe and durable designs. Ye olde classic bricks of pre-Ford times had been built using the Kalmar approach to outlast the conspicuous fashions of their days. By 1989, Volvo had even offered a 740 model that was designed to last an average of 17 long Nordic winters according to the Swedish PR machine. Buying a Volvo back in the day truly meant buying a keeper par excellence.

Unfortunately, the bid to transform Volvo into an uber-Yuppie brand throughout the 2000’s had been an epic failure. 10 models, 0 hits by 2007.  The XC90 and S80 were as unpopular, as the C30 and S60 were overpriced. Come to think of it, all Volvos by this time were overpriced.

Jaguar was a classic case of buying sizzle instead of steak. The $2.4 billion toilet flushing of a buyout in 1989 ($4.4 billion in today’s dollars) was followed with billions more in Ford’s failed attempt to rejuvenate a marque that had back in Thatcher’s time, released the auto industry version of an age old  grandfather clock.

To undo the damage and rebuild what truly never was, Ford bequeathed Jaguar some of the most distinctive designs and beautiful interiors of modern times. Everyone considers styling to be purely subjective. However the XJ’s and XK’s of the late 90’s could have become market leaders if Ford had fewer luxury laden mouths to feed throughout the 2000’s. By 2007 Jaguar had once again become a luxury laggard.

Lincoln was the automotive equivalent of Alzheimers by 2007. The Town Car was already destined for the dustbin. The MKX and MKZ, two acronymed models that were as compromised as an MBA new hire,  were even less competitive when it came to sales.  As a historical footnote of the worst type, the Lincoln Mark LT pickup battled it out with the Lincoln Blackwood and Chevy SSR for worst sales flop of the decade.

What else was left? Oh, SUV’s. Plenty of opportunity for profit there. But while Escalades, Land Cruisers, and Range Rovers were still ringing up the profits, Hummer H2s, Dodge Aspens and Lincoln Navigators were rapidly becoming also-ran’s.  Despite offering competitors in five different luxury markets, most Lincoln dealerships were unable to move the metal.

So guess what folks. You have to keep one. Which will it be? Swedish style, British luxury and American ingenuity are all on the table. Which one is most worth it in today’s marketplace? Discuss.

 

 

 

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64 Comments on “Jaguar, Lincoln or Volvo: Which Brand Is Worth Keeping?...”


  • avatar
    aristurtle

    One brand for them to keep? Easy answer.

    Ford.

    Mulally had the right idea and should have finished the job. In fact, I’ll bet that he will, and Lincoln will be as dead as Mercury within the next five years or so. With a car brand you need to go all-in or go home, and there’s been no real effort to improve any brand over there other than the main one. Killing Lincoln would give them another billion dollars, at least, to put into further improving Ford, and since that’s clearly where all their attention is going, that’s what they should do.

    Henry Ford himself hated the idea of splitting off brands for “luxury” cars, and only allowed it after essentially everyone else in the company was against him. It’s time to bring this back full-circle.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      I think they should have kept Mercury for the purpose of selling profitable near-luxury versions of cars that had already been developed, but that’s just me.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        It involved a whole separate dealer network and diluted the brand. The whole “Titanium” trim level thing does essentially the same thing while still reflecting well on the Ford brand.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      aristurtle is correct…Mulally made the right move…GM and Ford both made the mistake of thinking that luxury buyers wanted European cars when, in fact, they were under the spell of German cars. BMWs are bred on the Autobahn, not Jaguars, Volvos or Saabs.

  • avatar
    86er

    By 2007, the Town Car was the automotive equivalent of Monty Python’s Black Knight and was still a respected nameplate.

    Now…

    Did I already screw up this exercise? Sometimes for penance I read youtube comments. It’s worse than 10 lashes or 100 Hail Marys.

    Speaking of Hail Marys, why did Lincoln think it was swell to throw an offering into a segment the U.S. automakers had to themselves (luxury pickups) but not in the other segment it always had to itself?

    On topic addendum: I think they made the right decision to keep Lincoln. In 2007, the psychic damage alone to killing their biological offspring would have been perhaps too demoralizing for even Mulally to overcome, and plus everyone follows the same model now: Honda/Acura, Nissan/Infiniti, Volkswagen/Porsche, and so forth.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Volvo – they’ve managed to keep their style and reputation through it all. They’ve retained the respect that Jaguar and Lincoln have both lost.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    Volvo.

    Of the three, it was the only one that could be called a truly global brand by 2007. Lincoln had (and still has) no real standing outside of North America, and Jaguar is only really strong in Britain while being an expensive and rare curiosity everywhere else. In ’07 Volvo was just beginning to break into the crucial Chinese market, and probably could have done so easily with the right kind of management. And of course, it still had a fairly solid position in Europe, even if it was sagging in NA somewhat. Volvo’s position in the market hadn’t suffered nearly as much as Jaguar over the previous two decades. With some refreshed products, it could have become a serious moneymaker for Ford in Asia and maintained the same kind of respectable but marginal standing that it always had in North America while being a volume brand in Europe.

    Honestly, I think at this point it would have made more sense to kill Lincoln and keep Mercury for the American market. Mercuries were never really anything but gussied-up Fords. They should have operated Mercury like GM operates the GMC brand- as a cash cow trim level on top of pre-existing products.

    • 0 avatar
      detroit1701

      Obviously, Ford should have kept Volvo.

      New Volvo cars have to be some of the most underrated and underappreciated automobiles. We are just now seeing what was coming out from the end of the Ford-Volvo relationship — the XC60 / S60 / V60 and the new V40. They look (and probably drive) better than any equivalent Ford or Lincoln product.

      And I also take issue with people who think that Volvos are “overpriced.” Volvos often use higher-quality materials for every day parts of the car, but you would never know because of Volvo’s lack of marketing. Compare the quality of a C30 dash materials to a new Ford Focus — no comparison. Higher-strength steel. Real hand-stitched leather seats. Better, more efficient, cleaner design. Sit in a newer Audi and tell me why that car costs 20% more than the equivalent Volvo. The Ford Focus ST in NA will start around 25K, just 1K less than a C30 which is undoubtedly a higher-quality, better-looking car and is also 250hp with the Polestar upgrade.

      In NA, Volvo only offers fuel guzzling engines. That is a real problem. No small displacement gas engines. No D4 or D5. No V60 or V40.

      I think the alleged “failure of Volvo” is not the lack of talent or quality products at that company, it was more of Ford more or less intentionally strangling it so Volvo would not poach European sales. At the same time, it probably makes much more economic sense in the longterm to keep Lincoln as your luxury division. Volvo could never replace Lincoln, in that American, boring, highway barge kind of way.

    • 0 avatar
      CA Guy

      “and Jaguar is only really strong in Britain while being an expensive and rare curiosity everywhere else.”

      You get such a different perspective out here on the coast of LA. Driving back to the beach tonight from Hollywood, I saw at least a dozen new Jaguars of every type, and probably a couple dozen more than that going into the city this afternoon. They’re on the road and in parking lots throughout SoCal. I don’t know what real sales numbers look like but Jaguar is still a very active and popular brand with strong dealer networks here in CA.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        Just like how in upstate NY and Vermont there are Volvos everywhere.

        Having Volvo as the worldwide premium Ford brand seems to have the most utility and/or profitability outside of NA.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Lincoln.

    But, actually make a Lincoln; not a fancy-ford with a 10k markup. Ford has deep pockets and large resources, but it just doesn’t seem that they want to inject the capital to really make the brand it’s own.

  • avatar
    ByTheLake

    Is “none of the above” an option?

  • avatar
    Tstag

    This is easy it’s Jaguar because after all is said and done Jaguar is the only brand that is now profitable with vehicles that are largely using bespoke parts. Not only that but Jaguar is growing faster globally than Volvo and Lincoln with an ageing range.

    Furthermore Shaguar comes with Range Rover and as a group they come and the biggest profit margins in the industry.

    Alan Mullaly has made only one howler since running Ford. He sold the worlds most profitable and fastest growing premium car company to India. He should have close Lincoln and sold Volvo but kept JLR and possible Aston Martin. Leaving the premium car Market when everyone else is trying to get into is just dumb! And I believe Ford Europe told him so……

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I agree in keeping Jaguar but the profit margins you’ve mentioned are more due to the fact that Tata didn’t need to invest heavily in research and development for Jaguar’s current line up. That was done under Ford ownership.

      I believe Tata issued various statements warning of a profit decrease when the next round of major revisions/totally new vehicles (3 series fighter) begin production.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Fords big mistake with Jaguar was styling cars to appeal in the USA which had no appeal in the UK. When Ford bought Jag the XJ was the Market leader in the Uk. But ford did not see which way the tide was turning and did not move the designs on. They compounded the error by making the S type which proved a hit with US focus groups but a disaster in the UK. Ditto the X type.

    Ford realised they got it wrong with the XF which reversed Jags fortunes and made it the top selling car in it’s class in the UK and a strong seller in the USA. ford misunderstood Jag then worked out what the issue was only to sell it to TATA as Range Rover sales soared. So dumb!

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I would have to say keep Jaguar. It’s the only one of the three that actually had/has the creds to be called a luxury marque. That is, if Ford were looking to keep a “luxury” brand.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Definitely agree. Lincoln is a niche brand with limited geographical reach. Jaguar/LR have a global reach. Lincoln can only succeed if they can go into other markets because building truly competitive luxury cars requires a lot of money and you don’t get that from selling 100,000-200,000 units a year in the US.
      Ford had already spent the money on JLR so the big costs were already paid for and looking at their accounts they didn`t really need the $1-2 billion they got for selling the company.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I agree two. Jaguar is a true luxury brand and actually turns a profit. Volvo isn’t a Luxury brand, it is premium.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I realize that we have set up parameters for this talk so I will do what I do best and chose something else. Mazda…They have done more for Ford than most realize. I said ten years ago Ford should get rid of Mercury and Lincoln and just have Mazda as an Upscale front/all-wheel drive BMW. Instead they suck Mazda dry and keeped the good stuff and departed. Can you imagine a Mazda that has moved up past Acura and Lexus land. They could have brought back the 929 as the 9 and had a full range of mid level (not entry) luxury cars. Well that dream was deferred.

    • 0 avatar
      kamiller42

      I agree with keeping Mazda. I think the company helped improve Ford engineering by instilling or inspiring more discipline and attention to detail. The two worked well together.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Lincoln was absolutely the right brand to keep.  Even if Mulally had known then what he knows now Lincoln would have been the right brand to keep. 

    Lincoln is American, Ford is American, and there would have been no excuse to kill it for a foreign brand. Lincoln has a long and storied history and plenty of heritage.  The challenge today is to keep that heritage while making cars that appeal to modern buyers and thankfully with the  new MKZ and updated MKS and MKT things are on the right track. 

    The only thing I would have changed would have been to sell only the name rights and logos for Jaguar but keep all of the engineering and mechanical IP.   That way Ford could have immediately started releasing  vehicles based on Jaguar and Land Rover platforms with those engines as Lincolns and been ahead of the game. 

    Lincoln will rise again. Right now being a global brand is unimportant. Ford’s most important market is the US and that should always come first with vehicles designed to appeal to US buyers first. In 5 years Lincoln will have the same brand cachet as Lexus or Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      Tstag

      So you’d seriously keep one Market Lincoln over the other 2? Despite the fact that Range Rovers second biggest Market is now China and they have to pay import tax on every car sold? JLRs margins well known to be some of the biggest in the industry and today their UK plants run to capacity. They are building new factories all over the world and doubling the size of the range to cope with soaring demand. JLR is the fastest growing premium car maker in the world and you’d have sold Range Rover just to get rid of Jag? Keeping Range Rover should have been the priority for Ford so keeping Jag made the most sense

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Lincoln has a long and storied history and plenty of heritage.”

      So did Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saab, TVR, and Plymouth.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        Bravo – a storied history and plenty of heritage won’t be enough in the 21st Century.

        Ford will have to build a product that folks in the targeted income bracket would actually want to be seen in for this brand to have cache and survive.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I never said sell LR just to get rid of Jag.  I’d have kept the plans, IP, and tech from both, sold off the naming rights to the Chinese so they could start selling their own designs as JLR vehicles and immediately started building Lincolns based on JLR platforms.  A new Town Car based on the aluminum-framed XJ,  a new Navigator based on the Range Rover, a new Continental based on the XF, and a new Mark IX based on the XK to name just a few. 

      Lincoln outsold JLR in the US again this month, and both Cadillac and Infiniti are within reach.   The US market needs to be first and foremost in Ford’s plans.  Build the cars that Americans want and make them class pass leading and eventually the rest of the world will want them. 

      Overall Ford needs to keep the Lincoln brand out of pride. Shuttering Lincoln would be admitting to the world that the strongest US based automaker can’t make a good luxury car. Whatever it costs, Lincoln needs to survive. 

      As far as other shuttered brands go – Pontiac overlapped too much with Chevy, I can see the sense in killing it just as I can see the sense in killing Mercury, you don’t need two brands  selling virtually identical cars.   Saab could have been, and should have been, saved.  The new 9-5 is an incredible car, the loss of the marque is a shame.  I loved Oldsmobile, the first GM product that ever got my attention was the Aurora.  I’d have killed off Buick and kept Olds. 

      Lincoln can’t and shouldn’t survive on history and heritage alone, but that history and heritage are what make it too valuable to kill. Whatever it costs, Lincoln needs to, and will, make products that stand for themselves and bring in the next generation of buyers. 

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        “I’d have killed off Buick and kept Olds.” Funny I pretty much said the same thing ten years ago…Kill Buick, Saturn, Pontiac and Saab. Keep, Chevy, GMC, OLDS, Caddie. However I may have went one more and killed Olds name and sold them as GMC’s first cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Hildy Johnson

        This plan does not sound realistic. If they pawn off the naming rights and keep the IP, what would become of the actual company? You know, people, livelihoods, factories, towns? They would have been screwed. What would that have done to Ford’s standing in the UK? If I’m not mistaken, the UK is Ford’s second largest market worldwide.

        On top of that, while no buyer from China or India would have taken on JLR without the IP, by Western standards, the IP is hardly impressive. The cars are built on old platforms; quality, fuel efficiency, crashworthiness are all subpar. So overall, this is not a realistic proposal.

    • 0 avatar

      “Lincoln has a long and storied history and plenty of heritage.”

      True, but very little of that history and heritage involves operating at a profit. Lincoln was profitable in the 1970s and maybe in the 1960s. Other than that, the company has never really made money for Ford.

      Henry Ford bought Lincoln in 1922 to give Edsel something to play with and to get back at Henry Leland. Years earlier, in 1903 I think, Leland, who was the leading machinist in Detroit and already selling engines and transmissions to automakers, was hired by Ford’s backers in the car company he started before FoMoCo to appraise the assets in order to liquidate. Leland instead convinced them to use his new engine design in the production of a new car line. That company became Cadillac. So Henry Ford wanted to humiliate Henry Leland, who later started Lincoln after a dispute with Billy Durant, who’d bought Cadillac.

      Under Edsel, Lincoln became a styling leader but it was never really profitable. FoMoCo was usually making money hand over fist so Lincoln’s losses were tolerable.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    The answer has to be Jaguar. Since any of the three would be almost starting over, you are banking on cachet, and Jaguar was, for all its failures, much more identified as a prestige luxury brand than the others.

    I would have shaken things out so that the Ford world brands were:

    Ford – as it is today. Wow, they’ve turned it around nicely.
    Jaguar – Luxury with “driver-oriented” sizzle. Like Jaguar has turned out, but a bit more conservative styling and pricing than the Jaguar we ended up with. I’d shoot for a base model that name-checked the Mark II and could be bought by people looking at A4s and 3-series Bimmers.
    Mercury – Sports/near-lux trim line for Ford cars and niche vehicles that aren’t Mustangs or ST trim Fords

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I’m not sure new Volvos were reasonably priced before Ford got to them. I’ve got an ad from 1990 with lease rates *as low as*
    $246 a month for a 240 (which launched in 1974)
    $261 a month for a 740
    $387 a month for a 760 turbo
    $467 a month for a 780 turbo coupe
    I think the age of the 240/740 over the last twenty years is the only thing that’s made the old cars appear reasonable compared to the new crop of Volvos.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    They should have kept Jaguar. The marque had the history and the panache that Lincoln and Volvo never had. Jaguar had the cars and the designers eyes that could have made them winners had Ford injected more capital to address quality issues. I guess the Tatas have done that.

  • avatar
    ChillyWilly

    I think if you could go back in time and debut the Ford Flex as a Volvo we would have seen headlines like “Volvo returns to dominance with a moderately priced wagon.” Instead I hear comments like “yea, it’s nice inside… but ugly and way too expensive for a Ford.”

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      Man, if only. As it is, if I can justify a vehicle larger than my older Volvos (a 745 being the largest so far) I’ll be shopping the Flex in a couple of years. Brand be damned, I know what I like in a daily driver – and what I like is station wagons with squared-off styling, reasonable repair cost, and plenty of comfort and utility.

      The current XC70 doesn’t look too bad, though, despite being ‘jacked up’ for American tastes. It certainly hasn’t been Outbackified.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Doesn’t matter really. I remember looking at a Volvo C20, opening the hood and seeing a Ford Focus engine. You just need a clear purpose of what each brand is and then improve upon it. Seemed to me they just bought those brands just for the sake of it.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Lincoln died when they killed the Town Car. They just never announced it. And killing brands, like Mercury or Pontiac, is incredibly stupid. Cut Mercury down to one or two models, same with Pontiac, and sell them at Lincoln and Buick/GMC dealers respectively.
    Ford resurrected the Thunderbird- why not the Town Car ? Keep the Navigator and cut the MKs. Do what you do best. Forget the rest.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to admit, I’m curious as to why they killed the Town Car and its Panther friends. Maybe it’s because I visit this site as my primary source of automotive news, but the tooling was paid for, manufacturing costs are minimal, and I would think enough people – especially police and taxi/limo fleets – would buy the old dinosaurs to keep them viable.

      I remember renting a Mercury Marquis and thinking it was a lot of car at a price competitive with a Camry.

      On the other hand, if I were to keep a Ford premium brand it would certainly be Jaguar/Land Rover (sold as a pair, so we should consider them as a pair). They are known throughout the world as premium luxury cars, something Volvo and Lincoln really are not.

      However, if you read American Icon, the recent book on saving Ford, it looks like they really needed the cash from that sale during their darkest hour. I doubt Lincoln could have been sold because it was completely dependent on Ford models to have any cars to sell. So in the end they really had no choice of which brand to unload. The ones that were worth real money were the ones that got the axe.

      D

      D

  • avatar
    windswords

    Geez, not much love for Volvo. They have my vote though. Not only were they legitimately a global brand but they gave much of their engineering to Ford’s cars. I thought they were nuts for divesting them. I would have sold off Jag, mercy killed Lincoln, and kept Mercury. I would have converted all the Lincoln/Mercury dealerships into Mercury/Volvo dealerships where possible. Volvo would have developed large cars, Ford of Europe small cars, and Ford North America would handle trucks and SUV’s (and of course the Mustang).

    • 0 avatar
      SteveMar

      +1 — I completely agree with windswords. Volvo developed the platform for the Five Hundred/Taurus and could have continued to do so. I think Lincoln is a “dead brand walking” at this point and Ford could have used Mercury and Volvo to play in the near luxury market without the old-fogey imade of Lincoln holding back sales. They could have also calibrated Volvo to be more of a Euro design/performance value brand, in keeping with other famous Scandinavian brands (e.g, Ikea).

  • avatar
    200k-min

    I agree with the comments about Volvo being a global brand, but as a luxury brand? When I’ve been in Europe my experience is that “luxury” cars stateside are much more modest in the old country. Audi A6 taxis that aren’t spec’d much nicer than GM/Ford taxis in the US for example. Also most Volvo’s I saw weren’t loaded up S80’s but modest V40’s and such with cloth seats. How do you sell the “global” luxury name?

    Personally I think there are way too many players in the luxury game. Also, luxury is pretty much to the masses. KIA is putting features in their cars that were only available in luxury lines just a couple years ago. So long as I can get all the same options do I care if I’m driving a Ford or a Lincoln? Me, not so much. To an image whore that buys luxury to be seen? Well…BMW, MB, etc. has that space locked up. Go ahead and get the branding guys on it, but I doubt they’ll have any epiphany for Lincoln, or Jag or Volvo for that matter.

  • avatar
    George B

    None of the luxury brands were worth keeping because Ford just doesn’t know how to make credible luxury cars. The correct answer was to sell everything Ford could to raise cash to keep the Ford brand alive. Volvo and Jaguar cars had enough unique non-Ford content/features to make a spinoff possible. Lincoln, on the other hand, is nothing if separated from Ford. Because of the cost of buying out Lincoln Mercury dealerships, Ford’s best least expensive way of getting rid of Lincoln was to let it die slowly.

    I’m more sad to see Ford sell off it’s interest in Mazda. In my opinion, Ford and Mazda made each other better.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Fusion and the Escape were two of Ford’s biggest US passenger car market successes of the past couple decades, and they were both Mazdas under the skin. Mazda developed cars shined in Ford showrooms for their reliability and they could even be priced attractively. ‘One Ford’ cars don’t measure up.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Exactly. Mazda designed the better Fords, Volvo underpins their lesser efforts.

  • avatar

    Volvo is probably the definition of “niche”. I doubt they had sales of more than 1% any market outside of Sweden. They were too expensive to be mass market cars, and did not have enough cachet to be a luxury brand. Volvo could survive, but they need to retrench and deliver the best cars in their niche. They can’t do this under Ford.

    Jaguar has sold cars from a $30k X-type to a $500k XJ220. They are a global branch with a lot of recognition. But under Ford them were hemmed in at almost all sides by other brands and were being sullied by “rebadging” myths.

    Lincoln have a lot of brand recognition in the USA, but little elsewhere. They COULD get away with selling $100k limos here, and because they aren’t tainted in the rest of the world there is still opportunity. Although I think Lincoln (currently) make uninspiring vehicles, they were the only one of the three brands that could continue under Ford.

  • avatar
    DannyZRC

    Volvo and Mazda were doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the engineering department. Most of ford’s current successful product is built on either a Volvo or Mazda engineered platform. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_D3_platform#D4 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_CD3_platform )

    I’d have kept Volvo, and Mazda while I was at it. Lincoln was probably kept because it wasn’t costing much, but however little it was costing the value was even less. JLR has a license to print money with the 4x4s, but the car business would have taken lots of work to rebuild and even afterwords Jag is British, therefore not sensible and so would fail to find a buyer in a relatively large section of the USDM (could jag ever build a competitor to the ES/328i that would be taken seriously?), and the luxo 4×4 market seems to be pretty welcoming of newcomers, The XC90 already was a decent player in the entry portion and that business could’ve been grown.

    So yeah, I’d keep Volvo.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Volvo and stayed married to Mazda, that marriage helped both companies a lot

  • avatar
    Dmech

    Lincoln is a fancy Ford, the whole brand should have been assimilated into the blue oval. Jaguar has a storied racing history, but that’s been lost more with each new iteration. I’m personally a fan of the Kalmar approach, and it shows the company’s willingness to innovate, not just inside the vehicle but in the whole company, something that is quite an asset in today’s world.

    I say save Volvo, somebody has to be the new Saab.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Totally agree

  • avatar
    Nikko River

    At the time the decision had to be made, Jaguar wasn’t really a valid option (the brand has certainly improved since the early 2000s, but it was too small to be a main-stay luxury competitor).

    Both Volvo and Lincoln had shared platforms with Ford (or at least related platforms), but Lincoln had the volume that Volvo didn’t.

    These days, I think Ford would be better off with Jaguar. If the XJ and XF had better cabin tech (and Ford’s distribution network), Ford would have a line foundation of a line to compete with BMW & Audi, rather than trying to put together a Lexus ES fighter.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Kill em all and realize the original vision of an Edsel brand!

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    All three are good storied brands that have a lot of history and name recognition. What they need to decide is whether they want to have a separate luxury brand above Ford. If they decide to do it, then they need to commit to that decision. Today’s luxury market is very crowded with very serious players. Even Hyundai has developed a dedicated rear-wheel drive chassis and big V8 engine. It’s hard to see Lincoln succeed with half-assed effort using common Ford midsize chassis with common Ford V6 (and even 4 cylinder!) engine. It really is Cimarron all over again, though the base product being rebadged is admittedly quite good. It would be very unfair for Lincoln to succeed as it is, it’s like having the athlete that rarely practices and spend most of his/her time partying and binging won the gold medal, vs the one that put forth the effort. It just ain’t right.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Keeping Lincoln was the most efficient decision, i.e. it provided the most obvious opportunities for platform and parts sharing. It was probably also the easiest one to keep culturally, since Ford is still based in the US and maintains a strong US orientation.

    But I would have kept Volvo. Of the three brands, Volvo had the most potential for becoming a luxury marque that could compete with the Germans, and that could eventually compete on an international level. It would take a lot of work, but it could be a viable competitor to BMW with the right nurturing and attention to the lineup.

    Ford doesn’t seem to have its heart set on saving Lincoln. The lack of commitment is a bit too obvious to believe otherwise. But it’s a mistake to not have a luxury brand that can produce some real margin. It didn’t really save Lincoln, it just didn’t bother to ax it…for now.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Keeping Jag and LR sounds like the right strategy, based upon what’s happened in the last 5 years, but this is Ford we’re talking about, whose Lincoln division (the one they kept) is a dumping ground for overpriced Fords with chrome teeth. If they’d kept Jag/LR, Jaguars would be stretched Fusion or Mondeo platforms (remember what they did with the X-type?) and the Range Rover would be build on an Expedition chassis. The LR3 was based on the Explorer architecture, after all.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    False choice. Ford sold off brands to raise cash. They got $1.5Bn for Volvo, $2.3Bn for Jaguar and Land Rover. If they could have sold Lincoln, they probably would have.

    Add me to the Mazda chorus. Ford and Mazda were always a good match.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Given the economic circumstances at the time Lincoln was the correct choice simply because the U.S. is the world’s largest luxury car market. Jaguar and LR would be the choice for a global brand but keep in mind Ford has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt they are incapable of running a luxury brand, Lincoln included. That being the case Lincoln’s days are probably numbered as they should be. Ford should stick to marketing the Ford brand as obviously they are very good at it. Ford is equally poor at running luxury brands. Daimler trying to run Chrysler is a good example of knowing how to run a luxury brand and being clueless about a high volume domestic brand. In Ford’s case it’s the opposite.

    Given that Jaguar/LR & Volvo are established global brands vs. Lincoln being a domestic brand most likely there was little if any value in selling the Lincoln brand and the reason for the sales was to raise working capital/cut losses. Those two points make keeping Lincoln a no brainer which is I’m sure how Alan Mulally viewed it. Lincoln costs Ford next to nothing compared to the other two.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I think Ford made the right moves. Now they just need to finish the job and let Lincoln out to pasture. It’ll never be worth the billions of dollars necessary to make Lincoln into a serious luxury brand. Just look at Cadillac; 10 years since the first CTS and they’re still very much a work in progress. If Ford wanted a real global luxury brand, they should have kept Jaguar and Land Rover. Getting rid of them seems short sighted at the moment, but its hard to say how much they could really ever ad to the bottom line.

    As for Volvo and Mazda – they became redundant. Once Ford used them of the platforms and engineering talent necessary to make non-crap passenger cars of their own, there was no need for them. Volvo’s a brand without a purpose, and Mazda was too close to Ford. Good riddance.

    One brand is plenty. If they really went to sell a premium flagship, they’d be better off resurrecting the Thunderbird.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’m surprised everyone is so eager to kill off Lincoln. There is no way to remake a brand overnight. I’m sure everyone in Ford’s upper management realizes that this is going to take years or decades to get to the level of BMW or Mercedes. The first steps have been taken, and the 2013 model Lincolns that have been refreshed or redesigned are all significant improvements over their predecessors.

      Give it time, and have some faith that an American Icon might not have to be put out to pasture.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    American CEOs are clueless when it comes to engineering/marketing decisions, and not just in the car business. They are buzzword-spouting bean counters who can’t count without an Excel spreadsheet and someone to fill it in for them. One year the buzzword is quality, the next year it is market share, and the next it is overcapacity, then portfolio, then you bring in a harpist to design the dashboard. Chrysler buys Lamborghini, then sells it. GM wants to buy Fiat, then pay $2 Billion to get out of the deal. Fiat then buys Chrysler. GM buys large interests in Isuzu, Suburu, Suzuki, Dae Woo, and sells all but Dae Woo. Why ? I don’t know. He’s on third, and I don’t give a darn !

  • avatar
    kkt

    It’s really hard to take a beaten-down brand and raise it up to the luxury market again. How long did it take “made in Japan” to go from a synonym for junk to a desirable feature? 1950 to 1980 or so?
    Is Ford going to keep at making better Lincolns at a loss for 20-30 years hoping they’ll raise their reputation?

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