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Where Is Ford taking the Lincoln Motor Company?

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  • edward53edward53 Posts: 109
    edited June 2012
    People at the NY auto show were commenting that the 2013 Lincoln MKZ looked like an Audi. Some People went back and forth from the Lincoln exhibit to the Audi exhibit a couple of times to compare the styles. The person in charge of the Audi exhibit said that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." But I really wouldn't care if the Lincoln looked exactly like its Ford cousin thought it would have to have an exclusive platform for me to be interested in it.
  • Poor dealerships, no RWD, noise levels same as Ford model? Lipstick and high heals don't get me there. In 2010 bought my first non-Ford in 40 years. Well, I guess it was a Ford at one time....a Jaguar XF. It will take better dealers, RWD and a very quite cabin to win me back.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    The dealerships are being revamped significantly with dedicated Lincoln staffs and amenities. Lincoln typically uses thicker glass and more insulation - which vehicle did you drive that was noisy?

    As for RWD - not until they get a new global rwd platform that can serve more than just Lincoln. Too expensive.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    Well, a rwd platform SHOULD serve more than Lincoln. Ford ought to have a RWD sedan, along with the Mustang, somewhere in the line-up.

    Chrysler has the 300, and the next 200 will be moved upmarket to compete with the Audi A4...and rumor has it, the new 200 will be RWD, like the 300. Chevrolet is about to introduce its SS...yes, it is a somewhat older architecture from Holden, but it means that Chevy will also have a RWD sedan as another choice in their line-up. Cadillac plans to have three sizes of RWD sedans (like the Germans) within the next couple of years. The rwd ATS will be on sale this month, and the CTS will be fully re-vamped in 2013.

    Why Ford thinks this is a situation to study further is beyond me. Now, if Lincoln had longitudinally mounted engines like Audi that were situated over or slightly behind the front axle--instead of partially in front of it (like economy FWDs are set up)--rwd would not be so critical to rebuilding the brand. I suspect the new new Lincoln team knows this already, as making excuses for a dowdy thing like the MKS with acres of front overhang is not going to cut it. The 2013 Lexus ES does a better job of adding some style to this type of set-up and at a lower price point. The 2013 Toyota Avalon also sits better on its FWD architecture, also at a lower price point (and with better re-sale). Lincoln has been stuck for too long now with the unfortunately styled MKS, that is the only thing in the line-up that could possibly replace the TC (attempts to sell the MKT to the livery trade notwithstanding).

    BTW, the 2013 MKZ looking reminiscent of an Audi is a very good thing. It has some Aston too, plus a distinctiveness all its own. Edward, you don't have to buy it, but other people will, and likely in greater numbers than any Lincoln model in recent memory...not that that will be hard to do.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    The D3 platform is not conducive to sedans. The Taurus and MKS just don't look right and they don't have much interior room. That's why they're moving away from it for sedans.

    Ford was stuck in a position where they did not have a suitable RWD sedan platform due to poor decisions of the past. It would have been foolish for them to spend billions on a new platform at the time for a somewhat limited market compared to the gaps they needed to close in higher volume and growing segments like hybrids, small and midsized cars and crossovers.

    Now they're focusing on RWD and we'll have to wait another year or two to see what comes out.

    Anybody who understands how to run a business understands how Ford is operating and it makes perfect sense that they are where they are today given what the current team had to start with.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    I hope I am not poking the bear, but why on earth did it not occur to someone among those well-paid engineers, designers and administrators to use the 117" MKT/Flex platform for a big Lincoln sedan? It would not have to have been significantly longer than the current MKS, and it would have resulted in the roomiest back seat in the class. Remember, the TC had a 117" wheelbase, and was once the roomiest sedan in the world (excepting some extended wheelbase models from other manufacturers). Of course the TC had huge front and rear overhangs in the style of the times in which it was born, but Lincoln also showed with the LS that it could create a modern car with a wheelbase as long as the Crown Vic, but with trim overhangs and more overall balance. The MKT platform would have cost nothing more to use, since it was already planned for use on other models. Do these guys not brainstorm when they are trying to come up with models like the MKS?
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,769
    I'm sure it did occur to them but it probably didn't make financial sense to offer a large, luxobarge Lincoln to replace the TC. Since none of us were at the product planning meetings, we'll never know.

    BTW, the MKS rides on the D3 platform which is the basis for the D4 which the MKT/Explorer/Flex use. The D4 is slightly stretched. I know that's what you are getting at.
  • e_net_ridere_net_rider Posts: 1,380
    Two cents. Mine is a '10 without ecoboost. First, have you sat on those seats for any length of time in those other vehicles? Although they may have some appearance that is different, they are no more comfortable than the 11 Buick Lacrosse CXS. They fit into what many reviewers complain concerning cooled seats. I don't know how Lincoln beat that assessment on the MKS, but they certainly did. By time I got around to checking the Caddy I had learned how to look for that defect in seating. It only took a couple of minutes and it was exit, door closed. If they can't put a comfortable seat for long rides, the rest don't matter.
    I do feel my MKS could be better in a few ways. The CXS had the 3.6L DI and even though it was 200 pounds heavier, it got better mileage and more power. I have no idea how fast it could go, other than my salesman told me he had one to 140 mph. I let off at 128 and it was still accelerating fast, and that was before they boosted the power by about 40 horses.
    The CXS was razor tight on steering, that is with the H-arm rear and touring suspension. The downside to that is every little bump induced a sway in the rear which could be gotten around by switching to sport mode. If you are looking for something that rides and handles like a sport model, this might work for you, but it beat me to death on most roads. I would have hoped they had at least one more setting for the electronic suspension, one that got rid of the rough while maintaining control.
    And that is where I really see the difference from my MKS. The steering seems to have a slight play, but it is much smoother riding. I ride in comfort. As to back seat room, I've had people remark how roomy it seems, as with the CXS which had no trunk room.
    I would like to give an ecoboost model a thorough shake down. After owning a GM with electric power steering that would intermittantly try to drive me off the road, I'm leary of that. And where I live, the need for AWD is far less than some places which raises of questions of need/cost/reliability, etc. One thing Ford does not have that I truly miss is the HUD, heads up display. This is something that should become standard on all vehicles for safety reasons.
    Lincoln needs to make its sheet metal more durable, a tiny bump will dent. And I'm not impressed with their door seals and sealing. Carpeting screams cheap. And they need to make the vehicle quieter.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    Not sure why they didn't go with the longer wheelbase. I'm sure it was a combination of things that made sense at the time.

    Ford is being really secretive about new products and platforms so it's hard to tell what's going on. We know there is a new global mustang in the works and it would make sense that the new platform will also be used on other vehicles.

    My guess is we could see Taurus move to a longer and/or wider CD4 (like Toyota does with the Avalon and Camry) and we get RWD coupes and sedans (one each for Lincoln plus Mustang and a performance sedan for Ford). The Aussies could also use it eventually. Whatever the platform ends up being I think it's clear that it will be sold globally.

    Or Taurus moves to the new RWD platform. I can see a business case for both scenarios.
  • marsha7marsha7 Posts: 3,670
    What did they do to the seating that makes it so bad?
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Very impressed with the new MKZ I read about, especially the cabin. But I must agree with carguy - I have a Lexus, and still use my old Lincoln dealer to service my 6 Fords, and the difference in treatment is black and white. My Lincoln dealer just doesn't get it - And I'm a good friend and customer there!!
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    Have you seen any of the new Lincoln dealerships? From what I've seen and heard they will be just as good as Lexus. Of course it will take a couple of years for them to be upgraded and it may only be the ones in large cities. But they are taking steps to fix the problem.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Well, I can be a good judge of that - because I use both. I have a Lexus, and I take my 7 Fords to the Lincoln dealer for service still - know the service manager.

    The new Lincoln store in Las Vegas is nice indeed, however it used to be a Saturn Store! But a nice one. The problem is, the level of service there is NOTHING like the Lexus store. The dignity, pomp and ceremony is missing at Lincoln. Customer service is still mediocre, cashier is a vacuous idiot who can barely get your paperwork together. If I weren't well known by the Service Manager, I would be gone. Plus, more often than not, even with that local knowledge, the mechanics do the repair incorrectly, and the cars must come back.

    At the Lexus store, you call for an appointment. You are offered a loaner car, no matter what. When you arrive, you are greeted and processed, invited into a lounge with food and drink, very large TV and a very comfortable atmosphere for work or relaxation. Your service advisor comes and gets you shortly and takes you to his office where you discuss the service you desire, and options to spend more money are offered. Then off to your pre-cooled loaner, (gas is always provided and you don't have to replace it). Your Car is always carefully washed when you pick it up, and so far, always taken care of, whatever the issue may be. Usually only service, they don't break much.

    I understand Ford's goal for the Lincoln store, and the target is correct. Lexus has the best treatment and service going, BMW is a close second. Mercedes, at least here, is horrible! Any Chevy store can beat MB in this town for treatment.

    At our Lincoln store, no appointment is possible. But they are so slow, it's not an issue. You drive in, after a while a service writer may notice you. They are usually fairly rude and not at all knowledgable about the product. Many times I have had to show them what is wrong because they don't get it. If you ask for transportation, you are offered a ride in the next van, which could be an hour wait. If you demand a car, you are referred to Enterprise (they pick you up, you know). They are supposed to have loaners, but they have only one. And who gets that? I don't know.

    So they have a long way to go to match Lexus.

    The west side store is a Ford/Lincoln store - I don't even need to explain, do I?
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    Lincoln hired Les clefs D'or to train the Lincoln dealers in customer service but I don't think that whole plan has been completed yet. That's the organization for concierges at 5 star hotels.

    They're trying to reinvent the brand including the dealership experience which will take a few years. The important thing at this point is they're trying.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,219
    Very interesting.

    Lincoln Transforms Customer Experience at Each Touchpoint – from Shopping to Ownership

    Or they could just buy a Lexus and take notes.

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    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • edward53edward53 Posts: 109
    or they could buy a few BMW 5 series and see why they are superior to anything in the Lincoln line up.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,159
    Time to get a new dealer nv. If the mgr was truly a friend, he'd treat you better. Probably pay less at a Ford dealer, but once its out of warranty its usually time for an independent shop.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    The new team at Lincoln consists of over a hundred employees who have experience with many other luxury makes including Audi, Lexus, Mercedes, Jaguar, etc. Farley and many others came from Lexus. Ford knows what it needs to do - getting the dealers to do it is the hard part because they are still independent businesses protected by state automotive franchise laws.

    As for BMW - Lincoln would be stupid to try and build a better BMW right now. Even if you succeed from a mechanical standpoint you're not going to convert many BMW owners. Cadillac tried that with the CTS and the new ATS and so far all it got them was bankruptcy.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,219
    edited August 2012
    Have to agree. There's an Edmunds employee back in Santa Monica who recently had to buy a new car after a tree jumped in front of his old one. Went to a no-haggle Scion dealer, no trade, pre-approval in hand and the idiots kept dragging the deal out for four hours, dinking around.

    I'd expect my new luxury car to be delivered to my door by the conciergerie at my convenience.

    For a Scion, the jeans wearing lot guy can have the honors. ;)

    Doesn't some make pick your car up for service too (Equus?).

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  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    edited August 2012
    Allen said: Cadillac tried that with the CTS and the new ATS and so far all it got them was bankruptcy.

    We all know you hate GM and treat it like a rival football team, rather than a rival company that has had its ups and downs like Ford. GM did go bankrupt. However, since then, there have been many quarters of profits, just as with Ford and Chrysler. So, your "so far" comment is inaccurate spin.

    ATS was just introduced and is not yet reflected in any sales. Compact luxury sedans are a hot spot in the market (BMW 3, Mercedes C, Audi A4, Lexus IS) and the ATS is poised to do ok for a brand new entry. Lincol n still doesn't have a firm plan to even enter this segment.

    The CTS was an unreliable car out of the gate, but sales of the first and second generation sustained Cadillac, while it got other models to market. The third generation will be out shortly, and improvements will continue.

    If you keep saying that Lincoln needs time to show what it can do, why do you not give the same leeway to other brands? Besides, even if Cadillac does not deserve the same consideration that you always ask everyone to give Lincoln, sales speak. July 2012 had no ATS sales due to unavailability, and the XTS is only a month old in the market. Nonetheless, it was Cadillac 13,417, Lincoln 6,975.

    Both brands obviously have rebuilding to do. In 1998, Lincoln was the best-selling luxury brand. It has been downhill ever since, no matter what they have tried or not tried. New investment in the brand is being made, but the changes are coming slow. The MKS, which has never lived up to expectations (and why should it have?...just look at the dowdy thing) will not be completely revamped until the 2016 model year. By then Cadillac will have also added its rear drive flagship to its fleet.

    Here's another reason to temper your Cadillac bashing. Lincoln hired Max Wolff away from Cadillac where he was in charge of the exterior design of the XTS. He has now overseen the redesign of the 2013 MKZ. So, we are supposed to disparage his talent when he is with GM and laud it when he comes over to Ford?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,155
    Lincoln needs to find Elwood Engel. Now THAT guy could design a Lincoln!

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  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    edited August 2012
    The 1960s Continental was iconic. There have been a few other Lincolns that earned that status as well. However, the people that oversaw the brand never understood what made those few models stand out.

    Luxury car buyers now demand stellar products, since these days even the plebeian models are remarkably good and remarkably well-equipped.

    For anyone to have thought that the MKS would be competitive just shows that there was no understanding on the part of the people who held the reins. I can't imagine why such highly paid people were so clueless, and how they ever got into positions of control. Perhaps now, as Allen claims, they have finally gotten the drift. It is as they say about time.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    Ok let's go over this one more time.

    I respect the current CTS as a stand alone vehicle. I have no issue with the XTS or ATS either from a vehicle standpoint.

    The only problem I see with the XTS is that it's almost a clone of the MKS from a platform/feature/performance standpoint except that it does not have a 365 hp option yet. Styling is subjective but from an objective standpoint it's virtually identical, but GM fans act like it's so much better. It's not - it's a nice niche vehicle just like the MKS. There isn't a big market for either one any more.

    The problem with the CTS and ATS is how much money GM wasted on platforms to get to where they are today and their obsession with making a "bmw whatever fighter". Thus my comments about bankruptcy because that was a big part of it. Throw in other failed "home run swings" like the XLR and I just don't understand the decision making.

    Lincoln has obviously not gotten any really good products since the LS and even it had problems. But at the same time Ford wasn't wasting money on bespoke expensive platforms. The current game plan to have 7 new vehicles within 4 years including at least 2 crossovers based mostly on existing platforms but with unique styling, features and drivetrains is a much more sound business plan than chasing one or two "bmw fighters".

    I see Lincoln chasing Lexus and Audi and Acura and I see them being able to compete in that arena with a highly efficient cost structure which should yield nice profits. Once they're profitable they can start chasing higher performance and niche models.

    I definitely give Caddy the nod from a performance perspective but I think the 2013 MKS and MKZ are just as good as the XTS and CTS from a luxury standpoint.

    I think Cadillac is getting better by sharing more parts and platforms but I'd rather see them work on a comprehensive lineup of 6 or 7 good vehicles than trying to beat BMW.

    The question is where both brands will be in 5 years. I think Lincoln will be a solidly profitable competitor with a full model lineup. I fear that Cadillac will still be swinging for the fences trying to hit that one grand slam.

    I never liked the old Cadillac products but have no real issue with the new ones. It's the business plan for Cadillac and GM that I don't like. They simply have not changed enough of what put them into bankruptcy.

    Look at the sales volumes of Ford and GM. Ford is usually within about 15% of GM's volume but only has about half as many employees. GM is still making too many Sonics and using factory backed sub-sub-prime financing for people with 500 credit scores to move them. They have 2 totally redundant truck brands. They haven't changed enough in my opinion.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    They may have been highly paid but that doesn't mean they understood how to make a great luxury car nor does it mean they were given the funding and authority to do it. In the early 2000s they were hamstrung by Jaguar, Aston-Martin and Land Rover. They did not have a separate Lincoln design team. When Wolff saw the initial version of the 2013 MKZ he asked the designer "what were you thinking"? Dealerships were (and still are) archaic with terrible service for a luxury brand.

    Now they have a huge dedicated Lincoln team with enough funding to do what they need to do and without any distractions like PAG or Mercury. The only thing that remains to be seen is if they can execute the plan. It's not a slam dunk but this is the best chance Lincoln has had in decades to become relevant again.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    Allen,

    Thank you for a more thoughtful response.

    The XLR was a bold idea that didn't connect, didn't make it. (So was the CTS a bold idea, but expectations were more in line with reality.) Americans are not ready and willing to buy a $70K two seater in any great numbers. Similar models from Mercedes and Jaguar sell in very small numbers as well. The difference is that those companies don't expect expensive two seaters to have unrealistically high sales numbers.

    It is no different from the last Thunderbird. There was nothing inherently wrong with that model, but sales projections were way out of whack for a two seater convertible. It was quickly deemed a failure, which it was not. Ford's own history should have showed them that they needed a four seat option. Thunderbird sales boomed in 1958 when rear seats were added to the design.

    Let's not forget that Lincoln sales have sucked for far longer than Cadillac's, and none of their models introduced in the past decade have come close to sales expectations. Cadillac took a big gamble and nearly lost with its $4 billion investment in rear wheel drive. However, they are still here, people's memories of the bankruptcy will fade (as has happened more than once with Chrysler), and now they have dedicated platforms that they actually can hold up against BMW, even if BMW still has the edge.

    Lincoln gambled on conservative investment, conservative styling (except for grills), even after Bill Ford stopped choking the brand. They may as well have gone bankrupt, because what used to be a respected luxury brand is no longer seen as such.

    I definitely give Caddy the nod from a performance perspective but I think the 2013 MKS and MKZ are just as good as the XTS and CTS from a luxury standpoint.

    Ok, I understand that is what you think. I disagree.

    The MKS is not as quiet and does not ride as well as the XTS. Wolff styling is evident with the XTS. Wolff styling is evident with the 2013 MKX. Somehow he managed to make a FWD car with too short of a wheelbase for its length (the same problem the MKS has) look attractive. The XTS interior also looks far more high end than that of the MKS. It's not just GM fans who think it is better. Read the auto press which, on the whole was poised to hate it before driving it.

    The MKZ to date is anonymous with a nondescript interior. It does not stand out in any way, nor does it have understated elegance. The driving experience is no different from that of any solid mid-size with a lot of equipment on it. I am not enamored of the "art and science" styling of the CTS, but on the street it does look like a luxury car.

    We do agree about the old Cadillac products. Bleah!
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Doesn't some make pick your car up for service too (Equus?).

    They make that claim, but a friend has an Equus - they don't, AND when you bring it in, you get a Genesis loaner, if they have one, a Sonata if they don't, and here, they only have one Genesis loaner.

    Overpromise, underdeliver.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    GM did go bankrupt. However, since then, there have been many quarters of profits, just as with Ford and Chrysler. So, your "so far" comment is inaccurate spin.

    That's funny. :P Give me 60 Billion to restructure + BK to dismiss priority debt, union contracts and pensions, and I'll have profits too. I am ok with his "spin".

    I don't hate GM, just most of their cars.

    OTOH, Lincoln has been an embarrssment since about 07.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,769
    They make that claim, but a friend has an Equus - they don't, AND when you bring it in, you get a Genesis loaner, if they have one, a Sonata if they don't, and here, they only have one Genesis loaner.

    It takes time. My boss at a job 15 years ago used to have a 7 series. His dealer provided loaners - Nissan Sentras for everyone!!
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,678
    I was talking about the 2013 mkz, not the current one. The current one sucks as a true luxury vehicle. The 2013 is not perfect but considerably better. And Wolff was only able to make small tweaks to it.

    As for the XTS - I don't agree on the styling vs. the MKS. But that's all subjective.
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