Lincoln MKC Inventory Rising, But U.S. Sales Have Levelled Off
With November’s sales results in hand, we asked four months ago whether Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln division had reached “Peak MKC.” Initial evidence suggested the Escape-related small crossover wasn’t able to cross the threshold from middling success in the Acura RDX and Audi Q5-dominated small luxury CUV arena into the upper tier.
With the MKC’s U.S. sales results from the first-quarter of 2015 now in, there’s yet more evidence leading us to believe that demand for the MKC – at its current price point, with its current level of incentives, without a new MKX stealing limelight – won’t climb noticeably higher.
Its share of the small luxury SUV category is lower than it was during the launch period in the third-quarter of last year. After claiming 9.3% market share last summer, the MKC accelerated to 10.9% in the final three months of 2014. But with five established rivals selling (RDX, Q5, X3, XC60, GLK) more often and Lexus’s NX also generating greater interest, the MKC’s share in the segment was down to 8.6% in Q1 2015.
The MKC was Lincoln’s best-selling model in November, and it seemed likely that it could continue to be the brand’s most popular model given the decreasing interest in the brand’s main car, the MKZ, and the fact that the MKC was believed to be just getting going. ( MKZ volume declined in each of the last ten months.) Some showroom traffic is perhaps being diverted toward the MKC, as well, because the first-generation MKX is more than eight-years old and the new MKX is forthcoming.LincolnMarch 2015March 2014% Change3 mos. 20153 mos. 2014% ChangeMKZ2,8424,052-29.9%6,5069,218-29.4%MKC2,070——5,230——MKX1,4752,581-42.9%3,9687,101-44.1%Navigator1,09774647.1%2,8751,56184.2%MKS8381,034-19.0%2,0422,440-16.3%MKT373556-32.9%8571,283-33.2%———————Total 8,6958,969 -3.1% 21,478 21,603 -0.6%
Lincoln dealers have the MKCs to sell, as well. Automotive News shows more than 10,000 MKCs were in stock at the beginning of March, a month in which 2070 MKCs were sold, the MKC’s fourth-best of 11 months. That’s a 163-day supply, not an extraordinary number for Lincoln (which has the highest inventory levels of any auto brand in America), but far greater than the industry average of 69 days.
We are, however, approaching the prime automobile buying season. Top-selling small luxury crossovers like the Acura RDX and Audi Q5, for example, sold 19% and 27% more, respectively, in the second-quarter of 2014 than in the first. Over the next three months, the auto industry should produce at least 10% more activity than it did over the previous three months. But after averaging fewer than 2000 monthly sales over the last nine months and never topping the 2400-unit mark, there’s little reason to believe that, even with plenty of MKCs available, there will be a sudden spike in demand without real pricing aggression from Ford MoCo.
As for the hope that the MKC would be a Lincoln saviour, well, that’s not turning out to be the case. Non-MKC Lincoln sales plunged 25% in the first-quarter and 26% in March. Even including the MKC, brand-wide Lincoln sales slid 3% last month and 0.6% in Q1.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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