By on March 1, 2019

lincoln grille 2018 navigator logo

Just how much the polar vortex and a chillier than normal February weighed on U.S. vehicle sales is up for debate, but Ford Motor Company felt the buying public’s cold shoulder last month. Actually, make that just the Ford brand. The Blue Oval division saw a 5.1 percent drop in sales, year over year, last month, thought its luxury stablemate continued its strong early 2019 showing.

The good news for Lincoln comes before anyone has a chance to buy what’s widely seen as the brand’s savior: the Aviator midsize crossover.

As Ford no longer issues sales data on a monthly basis, we’re left to grapple with info doled out from a few sources. Don’t worry — there’ll be a monthly sales roundup from Matthew Guy just as soon as all the data falls into place.

The Automotive News Data Center shows the Ford brand underperformed in a market that sank 4.4 percent in February, though how this shakes out in terms of retail/fleet mix is unknown. (In January, sales rose 6.5 percent.)

One thing weighing on the brand is the continuing passenger car cull.

Sales of Ford cars fell 37 percent, year over year, last month, thanks to discontinued production of the Fiesta and Focus and the continued decline of remaining models. The Taurus bites the this month, so get that tombstone-shaped layer cake ready. Not helping matters was a 3.1 percent decline in F-Series truck sales; given the line’s gargantuan volume and fleet popularity, these monthly tallies can be quite variable. Fear not, because the new Ranger added its own volume during its first full month on the market. Some 2,899 Rangers left U.S. lots in February.

Lincoln, which closed 2018 down 6.8 percent (its worst showing in four years), is having a sunny first couple of months of 2019. January’s U.S. tally rose 20.4 percent, year over year, and February’s cold winds didn’t keep buyers away. The brand’s sales rose 15 percent last month. Sales of the full-size Navigator continue to climb more than a year after the current generation’s release, up 33 percent over the previous February. The refreshed and renamed Nautilus (formerly MKX) saw its sales rise 27 percent, year over year, confirming that the uptick seen at the end of 2018 wasn’t a one-month blip. Even the MKZ sedan saw a YoY increase of a paltry 1.4 percent.

Average incentive spend, one should note, rose 1.7 percent in February.

While some Lincolns had a good month, don’t count the Continental among them. The brand’s flagship sedan may have sold out its “coach door” models in a hurry, but sales of the conventional rig sank to their lowest point since the car’s launch.

Lincoln stands to see a volume boost once its swanky Aviator appears in showrooms this summer, and Ford buyers can expect a new Explorer at the same time. Once the Aviator, which dons an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain, makes it to lots, the next new product for Lincoln is the compact Corsair crossover — a successor to the MKC, due out for the 2020 model year.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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20 Comments on “Blue Oval Seesaws in February, but Another Good Month for Lincoln...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    What I’m seeing the biggest official incentives seem to be with Ford and GM.

    (Says the guy who is heavily window shopping at this point – my browser is my window – and keeping tabs on the rise and fall of manufacturer incentives from month to month.)

    BTW a monthly “incentive” roundup say at the end of the 1st week of each month might be educational. It gives a better idea of how desperate manufacturers are and which models they are most desperate to move.

    Ex: $5000 off of Flex models right now (an old favorite of mine I keep an eye on.)

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It depends on the vehicle. FCA has some crazy incentives on trucks right now. I tried to buy two last month, but I couldn’t make a deal happen. The RAM Classico is great on a buy or as an employee lease. The new RAM is actually a better lease for a lot of people.

      The 2019 RAM Big Horn is actually cheaper on a lease for anyone than a 2019 F150 XLT with A-Plan.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I was speaking very generically…

        A WARLOCK crew cab with Hemi and 4×4 with enough cash on the hood might be enough to make me break my promise to myself to buy a sedan or wagon for my next ride.

        Come to the Dark Side… We have cookies.

    • 0 avatar
      NG5

      I have an irrational love for the Ford Flex. It’s the only giant Ford vehicle I have any interest in owning. The styling reminds me a bit of the old square VW vans, and the powerful powertrain makes it fun as a bit of a funny sleeper car.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @NG5, I have an Albuquerque dealer showing the Flex SEL with heated seats and leather for a bit over $32K. That’s almost enough to make me forget that the fuel economy isn’t any better than my Highlander.

        IT’S A MODERN COUNTRY SQUIRE! And dang it there were full size wagons all over the place in my youth but now that I’m old enough to buy one… The Flex is the closest thing.

        • 0 avatar
          NG5

          That is far more affordable than I thought they were. I just looked and was surprised to see you can find Ecoboost V6 Flexes all day for thousands cheaper than a Ford Focus RS. That would be an entertaining cross shop.

          I always liked the idea of the RS but found the Focus a bit big when I’ve driven them hard. The Flex would be bigger but hey, it seats 7, costs (5k USD??) less, and is only a second and a half slower to 60 according to the magazines. That Flex has to be the cheapest way to spill the highest number of passengers’ drinks.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      The Americans no longer have to subsidize money losing compact cars. They can afford to be a little more generous when it comes to discounts.

      • 0 avatar
        James Charles

        Bingo! You hit the nail on the head, except you have it ass up. It’s large US vehicles that are the most protected and subsidised. Small vehicles are least protected.

        You had better hope the current raft of barriers, subsidies and protection remain on US large vehicles. This will offer the US manufacturers have at least a medium term existence.

        I laugh at the ridiculous comments by some of my American brothers who want other countries to adopt US style regulations and taxes on vehicles. They think all will buy US pickups, V8s and huge US SUVs. This will not occur and the US vehicle manufacturers will definitely go under.

        Why? Because if the US can’t compete with small vehicles globally and the world adopts US style/size vehicles the world will produce cheaper and better large vehicles than the US, killing US manufacturers.

        The US is not a competitive vehicle manufacturer.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          That’s a very BAFO comment. Are you his replacement? Anyway, how are large US vehicles “subsidised” (BAFO made the same spelling error) and how are they “protected”? Including those by Toyota, Nissan, Honda, etc?

          “US style” regulations, barriers and taxes have somehow created a very inviting market where the import brands have overtaken the “domestics” by a long shot, decades ago.

          Do you not “realise” it’s the global “style” of regulations, barriers and taxes, especially those from Europe, that are the most offending and controlling of what consumers are forced into, like it or not?

          And have you ever been bit by a dingo? Kicked by a Kangaroo? You still keeping in touch with Robert Ryan?

          • 0 avatar
            James Charles

            Denver Mike
            What is a BAFO? Is it related to politics? Dem or GOP?

            Your comment is rather creative. Judging by the comment and reading your input last week it would be pointless debating you as you create alternative facts. Have a good morning.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Yeah, real surprising, just like BAFO, you refuse to discuss the topic, your warped, ignorant views, that you obviously can’t back up with anything resembling facts what so ever. As usual.

            I knew you couldn’t stay away for too long buddy, but would eventually show yourself.. I mean that’s the point of it, no? No point being BAFO if you can’t be “BAFO”, right?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            That’s 100% BAFO, I wonder if he still thinks DenverMike and I are the same person.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            BINGO! In a way, he’s even more “BAFO” than BAFO. He actually brought up “The Chicken Tax” a few days ago (in the EU fires back at imports article), and I even gave “James Charles” (BAFO) the benefit of the doubt, figuring if it is BAFO, maybe a toned down version, he would eventually ‘slip’ and go Full Blown BAFO.

            Clearly BAFO didn’t come back here (from his official ban, with a new user name) to not be his usual BAFO self.

            But can he really be that demented thinking no one would notice the “new” BAFO in town?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            When did he get banned?

            His hatred for American ideals is so specific that no one else could possibly talk that way other than him.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            BAFO was banned a couple months back for nonstop insults, after repeated warnings. Of course a sociopath like BAFO can’t hide behind another name for too long before his old modus operandi returns and it’s the same old BAFO, different “user”.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Well…the good thing about buying a car nobody else wants (Ford Flex) is you can get them cheap. No secret they are being discontinued-and there is no European equivalent-so buyer beware down the road for parts-especially trim pieces.

    Let’s face it-these things were never big sellers……

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    I remember when the MKTaurus was Lincoln’s savior.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Sadly, Lincoln’s concierge service isn’t enough to save their effort at a large American sedan. Their new SUVs will be a different story.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I like the fact that Lincoln is not pretending to be an alternative to BMWs and that they have gone back to naming vehicles actual names.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yes thank God we don’t have to hear Lincoln prattle on about Nuremberg Ring times or their latest 3/5/7 series competitor.

      Just the good ol’ American: “Do you want the powerful engine? Let’s look at the options list.”

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