By on June 5, 2018

Image: Ford

May brought happier sales number for Ford Motor Company compared to the lackluster month that preceded it, though the same can’t be said for the Lincoln brand. Despite a 0.7 percent overall sales gain last month, Ford’s 1 percent year-over-year uptick in volume was countered by Lincoln’s 5.2 percent sales drop.

It’s the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year volume loss for the premium brand once described as “resurgent.” True, Lincoln’s sailing in far calmer waters that it was a decade ago (or even a handful of years back), but its engines seem to be set to slow astern. After achieving a post-recession sales peak of 111,724 vehicles in 2016, Lincoln’s sales slipped ever so slightly in 2017. It’s now down 13.4 percent over the first 5 months of 2018.

Lincoln’s upcoming Aviator can’t arrive soon enough.

2018 Lincoln Navigator

What’s to blame for the brick wall? Blame cars, for the most part. While the MKC and MKX crossovers, which rose to post-recession heights (for the MKX, anyway) last year, have since fallen by about 15 percent over last year’s year-to-date total, the new-for-2018 Navigator can’t fully replace the volume of the quickly sinking MKZ and Continental sedans. Its lofty MSRP can certainly make up a lot of the lost profit, however. The Ford Fusion-based MKZ sank 35.7 percent in May, year over year, with volume down 35.1 since the start of the year. The Continental’s fared even worse, down 37.8 percent in May and 25.1 percent over the first five months of 2018.

To sum up the brand’s product mix performance, sales of Lincoln cars fell 36.5 percent in May, and 32.5 percent since the start of the year. Thanks to the late-2017 addition of the Navigator, however, the brand’s SUVs had a good month — up 13.7 percent from the same month last year. Year-to-date figures show a small loss of 2.2 percent.

In just the past year, cars have gone from 37.7 percent of Lincoln’s lineup to barely over a quarter. May of 2016 showed the same mix as 2017. It’s no wonder the rumor of a returning (and retro-ified) Continental carries so much doubt. Over the same time frame, the Navigator, which spent much of the past decade in the doldrums awaiting execution or salvation, is now a driving force in the lineup. Just last May, only 8.3 percent of Lincoln’s volume could be attributed to Navigator. It’s now 18.8 percent.

Year over year, the Navigator’s May sales saw a 122 percent increase. That translates into an 85.8 percent year-to-date sales gain for the hulking three-row full-sizer. In fact, you’d have to travel back in time to 2007 to find a better sales month for the largest of the Lincolns.

Sometime next year, Lincoln plans to add a new model with an old nameplate, and it’s located in a sweet spot in the lineup. Smaller than the Navigator, but larger and more upscale than the MKX (refreshed and renamed Nautilus for 2019), the 2020 Aviator’s rear-drive architecture and premium looks should be the move that gets Lincoln running in the right direction again. It’s also possible buyers might take to the new MKC and MKX/Nautilus’ Continentalized face in greater numbers. With the Aviator in place, Lincoln could axe the MKZ and Continental entirely and still maintain its current volume.

[Images: Lincoln Motor Company]

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43 Comments on “As Lincoln Struggles to Regain Its Sales Footing, the Aviator Can’t Arrive Fast Enough...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Those wheels are vomit-inducing and can’t be unseen, as is that shoddy, unoriginal facsimile of a BENTLEY BENTAYGA grill in that second photo.

    • 0 avatar
      RSF

      Nothing at all wrong with the new Navigator. Just ask GM and all the buyers moving over from the Escalade.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        Well, one could say that the latest Navigator’s styling is every bit as tasteful and refined as the Escalade, right down to the elegant, understated grille ornament.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This just in! DW hates something with all his heart and soul!

      After the break, an explosive report on water. Is it still wet? Stay tuned!

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        I’m waiting for the day when he admits to liking something.

        I’m seriously doubting he’s capable of saying something positive about anything.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          There are many, many vehicles, past and present, that I not only like, but am genuinely fond of.

          Not all of us are willing to accept mediocrity and, in some cases, total sh!t, without calling it out as such; this is even more so the case when a vehicle in question is produced by an alleged industry “leader.”

          • 0 avatar
            Syke

            There are some who are equally unwilling to not accept mediocrity, but don’t tend to get our jollies by constantly berating just about every car company out there (or at least, so it seems, as I doubt I’m the only one who can’t remember the last time you said anything positive). And especially doing it in as loud and obnoxious a manner as possible without getting oneself banned from the site.

            Sorry mate, but I’m very glad we don’t drink in the same establishments. If we did, and your real time attitude is the same as the one you show here, I’d be watching you get your lights punched out repeatedly as anyone within arm’s reach got tired of the same old repeated rantings.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            You must hang out at establishments with losers, such as yourself. People with healthy incomes and assets don’t hang out with losers, and don’t jeopardize our financial assets by hanging out at loser establishments.

            Get back on one of those 50cc bikes that you’re always boasting about, and get your old, fat a$$ to $2 Domestic Bottled Beer Tuesdays with the rest of the losers, and bloviate ad nauseam about how great those 50cc to 300cc vehicles are and how great life in, and vehicles of, the 1940s was/were.

            Better yet, get on with the move-in at Sunrise Senior Living Facility.

      • 0 avatar

        “This just in! DW hates something with all his heart and soul!”

        It is called “passion”. DW passionately hates Bentley Betanyahu’s grill. And Aston Martin’s also by association. I like Aston Martin though and especially its grill and I like it passionately.

        Grillwise:

        Aston Martin = Ford
        Bentley – Lincoln
        Jaguar = Mercury (postmortem)

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I think the Aston Martin Vantage is one of the best looking vehicles of all time:

          http://ftp.sanfranciscosportscars.com/2008-aston-martin-v8-vantage/extras/footballers/

          I am also a HUGE fan of this Volvo 1800s:

          http://volvo1800pictures.com/0_car_photos/S/1966/noc/3257/Volvo_1800S_66_noc_3257_10.jpg

          I even like Datsun 240Zs/260zs, Cadillac Elmiraj & Ciel concepts, and I could go on for hours…

          …but SYKE wouldn’t know because he’s throwing bullsh!t around again.

    • 0 avatar

      almost as bad as the new Jetta.

    • 0 avatar
      Carroll Prescott

      Thankfully your puke threshold isn’t shared by normal people with eyes that work.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    The link in the WordPress email this morning was the link to the March 28th article, “Lincoln Aviator: Right-sized SUV Cleared for Takeoff” instead of this one.

    Imagine my surprise when an eddy in the space-time continuum sent me an alert from a couple months ago, about a tarted-up Ford Explorer (tee hee!). Although I’m sure there are a quite few of these aspirational Navigators, gracing the driveways of mcmansions and making their suburbian lessees (and perhaps owners, some) happy.

  • avatar
    RSF

    Lincoln has no one to blame but their self for the poor performance of the cars. The pricing is a pie-in-the-sky dream.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So, Z 1/3rd sales went to C, some Conti and MKX went to Navi, and I imagine some Navi’s were fleet who switched from MKT.

    “With the Aviator in place, Lincoln could axe the MKZ and Continental entirely and still maintain its current volume.”

    Given Ford’s comments of late, you may be right, but it would be a poor move unless the production capacity were simply shuttered (i.e. Fusion/Zephyr). What will happen, is Ford will explore importing from China but very possibly the billion dollar Conti could continue for a full product cycle because of its Made in USA pedigree. I do believe it can sell at the right price points, esp if its the only car in the lineup. Car buyers matter *cue idiocy about being old/uncool from the Faceplant winners*.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The Continental is at the right price point – it’s just not special enough to sell there.

      • 0 avatar

        Must agree on the Conti. Unfortunately it’s just a big bathtub hanging onto the bloated Fusion platform like there’s no tomorrow. (Kinda just like the one that died after 02, with its Taurus profile and door handles.) The styling doesn’t work, it doesn’t have any real luxury credibility, and the build quality from what I’ve seen isn’t where it should be.

        The competitor CT6 is an entirely better and more sophisticated vehicle on its own dedicated and RWD platform. The Conti sits right where the Volvo S80 did for its entire tenure as pinnacle of Volvo sedan. In the undesirable middle of nowhere.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Well, hey, the Continental also has the RLX and Q70L for company, in the category of pseudo-flagships that don’t sell.

          P.S. My 2014 MKS’ title said “MKS/CONTI” on it. As did the insurance. Like Ford registered it as and was getting ready to call it the Continental, but then changed its mind. And the styling of the MKS was an evolution of the late-90s-early-00s Continental.

          • 0 avatar

            I agree with you. Of those three I’d have to buy the Q70. The RLX probably will be most comfortable, but the dual-engine AWD hybrid thing annoys me and is also scary.

            And at least the Q70 is LWB and rear-drive and has a V8 option.

            Also I’m annoyed because of the quality stripping which has occurred in the Q70. So maybe I’d have the FWD RLX, and enjoy my Accord XXL Avalon.

        • 0 avatar

          Agree with all your points. Styling is bad because it is a caricature of the concept which looked stunning on photos (stylists got too much freedom apparently). Production car is the compromise made on FWD platform and cost cutting. But still Volvo was able to do it right with S90, why Lincoln cannot? And Audi do also. Make it lower, wider, longer with RWD proportions that is the recipe. Not that blob that production car turn out to be.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Freed

        I disagree, both Ford car products and Lincoln car products are at incorrect price points. Cars are discounted now vs the F/SUV, better to accept it and move more volume for less margin (and greater economies of scale).

        • 0 avatar
          Carroll Prescott

          28 is incorrect – there is no price disadvantage with Ford or Lincoln on cars. They are priced right. Lowering the price would not increase volume enough to offset the decline in profits. Adding volume would also add another plant which would blow the whole argument up anyway.

          Fact is Ford is priced to avoid huge losses in discounts (a lesson that GM has yet to learn); and as long as Ford leads in trucks, it prints money. And being ahead of the competition on all fronts in trucks from development and power trains, Ford is better poised to handle things than GM or Ram. And in a blink of an eye, a 310 hp ecoboost engine can easily be put in an F-150 is Chevrolet’s move is big enough.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Well, it could be worse (ahem, RLX…).

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Cars are finished.

      The future belongs to monster-height turbo trucks rolling on 22s and plug-in eggs featuring all the zest of cucumber topped with cottage cheese.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Get a car while you can. I wouldn’t be surprized if by the middle of the 2020s the only “cars” left are in the specialty markets like Camaro/Mustang or the high end market far beyond what mainstream folks can afford.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    It’s been echoed here before and I will restate it: Enough already with the stupid MKX, MKZ, CTS, WTF, naming Lincoln and Cadillac insist on using. Can we just get back to putting a name on vehicle? If you asked the Average Joe, they would probably recognize the Fleetwood or Continental name, or at least the brand with which the cars are associated. But I doubt most people know the difference between a MKZ or an MKX.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Hell we own an MKX and I still have to think before naming it. America is not Germany… let’s act like it

      • 0 avatar

        “Hell we own an MKX and I still have to think before naming it. America is not Germany… let’s act like it”

        You mean Germans are able to think and Americans not so much. Education system is different and I know that for a fact.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      By this logic, the Continental should be selling like hotcakes.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      MKX, MKZ, CTS, those are all models of cars, but I think that next three letter code you mentioned is actually a trim level.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      I look at the pie charts and have no idea what any of those models are except for the Continental and Navigator. At least with the Germans you know that size and price of the vehicles match up with their number of alphabet position (i.e. a 3 series is cheaper and smaller than the 7 series, the A class is cheaper and smaller than the C class, etc), but the MK names on the Lincolns don’t have any logical progression in their 3rd letter.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The Navigator seems to be replacing the ‘Sclade as the personal ambulance of choice in the Syracuse metro area, judging from the police blotter. I think it may be due to ease of egress and acceleration, it’s easier to shove the wounded out of the Navigator and then get up to speed.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    At the risk of drawing your ire, that Aviator, and the Continental, are some fine looking automobiles.

  • avatar
    Michael500

    That Aviator looks like it was styled by the Infiniti brand. Nothing says Lincoln in it like the Navigator front end styling.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I’m afraid the aviator may have that same cheap feeling that plagues the new Nav.

    I think the new Navigator reeks of that cheap unibody look that all CUVs and minivans have today. First the body is so oddly proportioned that it doesn’t sit right on the mechanicals, the wheels look like their collapsing under the weight and are pulled too far into the vehicle, the overhang from the poor rear wheel placement makes that body look ungainly and minivan esque. I can’t see the Nav holding any level of continued success after the initial buyers unless they lower the price or refresh it soon.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Shhhh!

      Don’t dare bad mouth the looks or any other aspect of the Nav or Aviator!

      Syke is the ultimate 68-year old taste maker and sole purveyor of what’s attractive, good and proper.

      He and his buddies with rap sheets who hang out at the dive bar on the wrong side of the tracks are GOING TO KICK YOUR A$$ IF YOU KEEP UP THE CRITICISM!!!

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    The curious conundrum here is that the new Continental has absolutely no driving character while the Navigator is terrific. The Continental is just a fine smooth barge that loafs along. The steering of the Navigator is inspiring for such a big thing.
    It’s been a couple years since I drove the MKC but thought it was a hoot to drive.
    So I’m looking forward to the Aviator.

    The Continental? It looks impressive parked in front of your house. Especially in black. But I want to ask its engineers if they ever drove an Audi. Or as was mentioned above, the Cadillac CT6. (The Continental does have a better interior than the Cadillac.)

    • 0 avatar
      markmeup

      “The Continental is just a fine smooth barge that loafs along”

      and… if you really take a good look at the Continental, especially from dead-on front or certain 3/4 views… sadly, ‘a loaf’ is exactly what it turned out to looking like.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Like Audi and Acura (and increasingly Lexus), Lincoln sees its future in CUV/SUV sales (basically, only MB and BMW sell sedans in all 3 segments in sufficient volume).

    While the Aviator seems promising for Lincoln, the problem is that the MKC and MKX/Nautilus have under-performed compared to the competition (NX/RX, RDX/MDX, etc.).

    Expect the upcoming Cadillac XT4 to handily outsell the MKC, just as the XT5 handily outsells the MKX, but if Lincoln gives the next gen MKC and Nautilus, the full Nav/Av treatment, could turn those 2 around.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    Nautilus? What a silly name. What a stupid name. What an UNDESIRABLE name.

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