Lincoln Says It's 'Committed' to Sedans, but for How Long?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Man, how about that upcoming Lincoln Aviator? Pretty sharp-looking SUV, ain’t it? And then there’s the new Navigator. Kinda big, though, but the 2019 Nautilus should be just the ticket for the front-drive midsizer crowd.

Oh, right — we were talking about sedans. Lincoln loves ’em, apparently, and it’s not having any of this Ford’s-killing-all-the-cars talk.

Speaking to Automobile in the wake of Ford’s decision to kill off the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus in North America, a spokesman for the automaker tried to reassure traditionalists that the brand which brought you the Town Car for so many years has not abandoned its three-box heritage.

Ford is “committed” to the Lincoln MKZ and Continental, the spokesman said.

Is that the sound of doubt we hear echoing through readers’ minds? They’d be forgiven for thinking this Ford rep is referring to just the current-generation MKZ and Continental, as we’ve detailed just how poorly these models sell. Rumors of the Continental’s looming demise spread like wildfire earlier this year. Then, just as quickly, another rumor arose, this time based on the testimony of dealers who attended a National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in Las Vegas.

Ford Motor Company brass apparently wanted Lincoln dealers to know it wasn’t completely opposed to the idea of selling cars. Oh, and the next Continental will have suicide doors, they said.

It’s hard to muster up a firm belief on this kind of shaky footing. Both the Continental and MKZ ride atop Ford’s CD4 platform, the same one underpinning the Fusion, Edge, and MKX/Nautilus. While the Continental shares valuable factory space with the Mustang in Flat Rock, Michigan, Mexican workers cobble together the MKZ south of the Rio Grande.

One can envision a next-gen Continental appearing on the year-drive CD6 platform found beneath the 2020 Ford Explorer and Aviator, but we’ve heard that particular version of the modular platform is reserved only for SUVs, at least for the time being. And the MKZ? Maybe it could soldier on with its current platform, or switch to whatever shows up beneath the next-gen Edge. That model isn’t expected to see a revamp until the coming decade.

Then there’s the issue of China. While Lincoln sales fell 17.1 percent in the U.S. over the first three months of 2018, sales are on the rise in China, where the Continental is a prized executive car. The Lincoln brand is apparently readying a product surge for that market. One of those products, Reuters reports, is allegedly a new MKZ.

However, just because China gets an American model doesn’t mean Americans will. Look at the China-only Ford Taurus (also built on the CD4 platform) for proof of that. It’s possible, though, that China could build a sedan for us, just like it does with the Cadillac CT6, Volvo S90, and Buick Envision, thus freeing up valuable domestic plant space for the production of high-profit SUVs. Production of the first domestically produced Chinese Lincolns is expected to kick off before the end of next year.

As we said before, it’s weird to think of the Lincoln brand without at least one car anchoring the division to its illustrious past. Still, it’s impossible to ignore that MKZ sales fell 34.4 percent in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018, with the Continental not far behind with a volume loss of 25.1 percent. At this point, it would be strange to see a next-generation MKZ appear in North America.

A new Continental? That’s a little more understandable.

[Images: Lincoln Motor Company]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Comments
Join the conversation
4 of 47 comments
  • Robc123 Robc123 on Apr 30, 2018

    I was at the car show, saw the pathetic lincoln booth, there wasn't even a rep there. Got in the sedan and was amazed at how cheap and shitty it was.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Apr 30, 2018

    A Lincoln I can retrofit Mustang GT/Shelby parts into? Heh-heh!

  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.
  • Dartdude Typical Joe, bribing people for votes. He will do anything to re-elected, but as soon as he is he will go back on everything he says and does. America has never been this venerable as it is today. NO country respect Joe and what he says.
  • Theflyersfan Since I'm one of a couple of IT guys that supports the network, server administration, and all things computer related at a 24/7 logistics center (only closed on Christmas), I have to work some of the long weekend. But there's still time after we close early on Monday to fire up the grill and smoker, have a few friends over and scarf down some smoky rubbed ribs and burgers. Remember those soldiers who have died. I'm sure those in my generation had grandfathers who fought in WW2 and fathers who fought in Vietnam. I have my grandfather's dog tags and his enlistment card framed as a reminder of the sacrifices they made and to honor his memory.
Next