MKC Aside, Lincoln Sales Keep Tumbling As The U.S. Auto Market Expands
This whole Lincoln revival thing is going to be a long process of thorough product replacement if recent U.S. sales figures are anything to go by. And they are.
While brand-wide Lincoln sales jumped 20% in April 2015, those gains were created almost entirely by the MKC, a vehicle which wasn’t on sale at this time a year ago. The Navigator, recently refreshed, helped out with an additional 245 sales compared with April 2014.
But the Lincoln brand, as it existed at this time a year ago with five models, was down 8% in April.
With a new MKX arriving soon, steadily increasing Navigator sales, and the MKC hovering around 1,900 monthly sales, is it possible that Lincoln could become America’s Acura? Remember Acura, the automaker which made its name on cars like the Integra but now relies on crossovers for nearly two-thirds of its U.S. volume?
Lincoln, even with a second-gen MKZ that’s only been around for two years, saw its car sales tumble 22% in the first one-third of 2015. In fact, the MKZ’s year-to-date losses are more severe than the decreases put on the board by the nearly eight-year-old Taurus-based MKS. MKZ sales are down 23% this year, a loss of 2,851 sales. MKS volume is down 17%, a loss of 544 units. Lincoln car sales slid 7% to just 3,564 units in April, equal to 44% of Lincoln brand sales. The Fusion-based MKZ continues to be the best-selling Lincoln in the United States.
There are impediments to becoming an overwhelmingly SUV/crossover-oriented brand. The Navigator is on the upswing but it remains significantly less popular than, for example, the Cadillac Escalade. U.S. sales of the Escalade and Escalade ESV are triple what Lincoln achieves with the Navigator/Navigator L.
The MKT was never anything but a flop, and following last year’s historically low output, MKT volume through the first four months of 2015 is down 26% compared with last year’s pace.
The new MKX has potential, but the nameplate has never previously topped the 40K annual sales mark. (Lexus sells more than 100,000 RXs per year. 2015 will likely be the sixth consecutive year in which Cadillac sells more than 50,000 SRXs.)
And as we’ve mentioned quite recently, the MKC appears to have maxed out. Inventory levels keeps rising. MKC sales do not.
The MKC is, however, masking the dreadful state of established Lincolns in the United States. Indeed, through the first four months of 2015, because the MKC is simply not proving to be very popular, it’s only barely masking the true state of affairs among Lincoln products that aren’t brand new.
Subtract the MKC from the equation – it wasn’t on sale during the first-third of 2014 – and Lincoln’s year-to-date volume is down 21% to just 22,516 units.
Excitement at Lincoln surrounds the New York Auto Show reveal of the Continental Concept. That’s not a bad thing. But can Lincoln, which is not even remotely a global brand, sell a car with any frequency? New vehicle launch after new vehicle launch after new vehicle launch, Lincoln keeps offering vehicles that initially appear capable of capturing the U.S. consumer’s attention. And then, crickets.
Lincoln sales in the U.S. in 2014 rose to a six-year high. But 2014 volume was down 41% compared with 2003, a year in which Lincoln sold nearly as many cars (90,427) as they did total new vehicles (94,474) in 2014.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.
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I have to say that I wouldn't mind owning an optioned out MKZ Hybrid. Even though I hate the idiotic name, I like the look, I like the efficiency, and I even have a soft spot for the brand. But having to pay for an elderly parent's care for the foreseeably future means I'm just not in the market for something like that right now. People give the MKZ a hard time for being too similar to the Fusion, and maybe it is mechanically, but I think the styling of the MKZ is just so much better. It does make the MKZ pricing look a bit much, I will admit. Thing is, other far more blatant rebadging exercises, such as the Chevrolet Trax/Buick Encore twins, somehow escape any criticism at all and it makes me wonder if people just dislike Lincoln on principle.
I live in Columbia, MO. I bought my escape brand new at the #1 ford dealership in new Ford sales in the entire state of Missouri, here in Columbia. When I bought my Escape I asked my saleswoman how many Lincolns they sell a month, she was like "8 or 10 new Lincolns a month". They sell hundreds of Fords a month, more than anyone in the state. Were in the middle of the country, and they could be selling tons of Lincolns, but they basically sell no Lincolns.