Brand, or Body? Lincoln Dealer Council Still Warm on Sedans, Points to Tesla

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
brand or body lincoln dealer council still warm on sedans points to tesla

By the end of next year, Lincoln’s lineup will contain not a single passenger car. The decline of the Lincoln sedan has been well covered; you know all about the Fusion-based MKZ fading from the scene this year and the reborn Continental falling victim to declining sales, slated for execution sometime in 2021.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, and Lincoln’s national dealer council isn’t ready to say goodbye. However, the brand held up as an example of sedan success might not be a valid template for other automakers.

“The council continues to talk to the company about still needing to be in the sedan business,” said Tom Lynch, chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council, in a recent interview with Automotive News.

“You only have to look at Tesla. If you have a strong product, people are going to want it, and they’re going to want to buy it. What that looks like for Lincoln going forward, I’m not sure of.”

As general manager of a Lincoln dealer in Jacksonville, Florida, Lynch says a brand that abandons a segment that still makes up nearly a third of the American new-vehicle market forfeits any sales it might be able to draw from that pool.

“If we’re not in segments where there still is a good amount of business, I think the company and the dealers lose out,” he said. “So for all those reasons, council still feels like we need to be in the sedan business.”

The problem with the Tesla comparison is that Tesla is not a conventional automaker. While the Model 3 did dominate global EV sales in 2019, selling more than 300,000 examples (sales rose 14 percent in the U.S.), the car’s badge arguably has as much to do with its popularity as its emissions-free drivetrain. The most dogmatic of Tesla diehards see other automakers as insufficiently “pure,” as they still field gas-powered and SUVs alongside their EVs.

Only Tesla can lay claim to a 100-percent green automaker status (minus upstream emissions from manufacturing, power generation, and mining), and that remains a significant part of the brand’s appeal — along with CEO Elon Musk’s status as an industry disruptor and Silicon Valley rock star.

It can easily be argued that Model 3s are popular because they’re Tesla Model 3s. The Los Angeles Times did.

Lincoln has little trouble selling a gas-powered crossover or SUV, but it’s hard to envision a new electric sedan giving Tesla a run for its money. While the brand retains some cachet (Lincoln’s been working strenuously to return some lustre to the badge), it lacks both the mystique of the Palo Alto-based EV maker and the perceived virtue.

Whatever the solution is, the cynic in us sees Lynch’s concerns falling on deaf ears in Dearborn.

[Image: Lincoln]

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  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Feb 13, 2020

    It brings a tear to my eye to see a Mark IV waiting for the crusher. Over the past few weeks in the Rare Rides we have seen cars that passed for 'luxury' in Europe and Japan. They could not hold a candle to American land yachts. Even Malaise Era D3 luxury. Why doesn't Ford/Lincoln use some sort of hybrid/electric technology to create a vehicle that is comparable to the Tesla in performance, superior in build quality, and that is as big and baroque as previous old school D3 luxury? Totally off topic, I would greatly appreciate if members of the B&B would send a little positive energy and/or prayers my way. After 62 years of clean living and exercise, I received rather serious medical news yesterday, and will need all the help I can get. Thanks.

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Feb 14, 2020

    The Continental is a sedan that I really wanted to like. They got the engines right for the most part. For 45k they were offering a 305 HP V6 as std. Meanwhile Cadillac had a 268 HP 2.0T 4 banger as std on there flagship CT6 all for 10K more! The interior of the Continental was also quite nice save for a few cheap hard plastic bits and those front seats are very comfortable if odd looking. But the fact this car was yet another Fusion FWD based sedan underneath and the styling made it a tough sell for me. And I never liked those door handles that were integrated into the window molding or the fact they were power operated. I actually looked over a brand new just delivered car in 2018 and was surprised to find that the driver's door refused to close itself. The passenger door worked just fine powering into the closed position. The driver's door meanwhile only went to the first click and then nothing! Yours for the jaw dropping sticker of 76K!

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.