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Where Is Ford taking the Lincoln Motor Company?

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    I read that the ATS platform will be used for the next generation Camaro, and possibly a future Buick model. The total of these whould solve the volume matter. Also, a future generation of the Chevy SS sedan may replace the Holden platform with the ATS platform, but that's speculative at this point.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    Cadillac created the ATS, not to create a halo car, but to get into a volume area as Lincoln intends to do. The new CTS coming in a few months shares architecture, albeit stretched, with the ATS. The XTS shares a platform with both Buick and Chevrolet (see 2013 Impala). And Cadillac is already selling more than double the number that Lincoln does. Those are luxury models remember...where the profit per unit is higher. That's why Ford wants Lincoln. That's why VW worked so hard to build up Audi. VW now makes about as much profit with Audi's much lower volume as it does with the entire VW brand.
  • I just cannot believe the remarks posted on this blog site. Most of the posters here believe that giving Lincoln a different body style with some exclusive- for the first few years- electronic do das really does put Lincoln with its American Ford Fusion/Mondeo platform on par with BMW , Jaguar, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, Vauxhaull, and Cadillac V series. Do any of you know what a prestige mark is? Only the unenlightened and misinformed person would buy any Lincoln when one can get the same vehicle in a lower priced Ford.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    edited November 2012
    I disagree, unitedkingdom. I don't think most posters believe that "giving Lincoln a different body style with some exclusive- for the first few years- electronic do das really does put Lincoln with its American Ford Fusion/Mondeo platform on par with BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, Vauxhaull, and Cadillac V series."

    However, Lincoln has to start somewhere if it is to survive. What they have been doing for the last dozen years or more is not defensible. Going forward, they know they have to do more than different styling and some exclusive electronics. But they are starting from the ashpile they have created.

    Plus, while you may know better, there are lots of people who prefer a more exclusive brand, even if it does not deliver substantially more than the mainstream nameplate on which it is based. That is true with many products, not just automobiles. That is why the Lexus ES (Camry or now Avalon) has been such a success for Toyota. The Infiniti JX and QX are closely based on Nissans. Audi and Acura share some architecture with certain VW and Honda models. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that the TT has underpinnings shared with the Golf and Beetle does not stop people from paying much greater sums for the Audi. It is a proven way to get sales, and sales are something Lincoln does not have. The MKZ is based on the Mondeo, but the Mondeo is a good design and a good starting off point.

    Perhaps all those buyers are unenlightened and misinformed. Many brands must say thank goodness for such buyers or the new Honda Civic would have tanked. If some U & M buyers pick up the MKZ (which is more differentiated from its Ford counterpart than any Lincoln has been in years), it helps Lincoln get back into the market abd earn some revenue. It buys time while better designs are forthcoming.

    Again, I think that Lincoln has to set its sights on stealing sales from the likes of Acura and Infiniti until they begin to approach parity with the likes of BMW and Mercedes. They can compete with Acura for example with well-designed, shared platforms. They can build slowly in a very competitive market, but what they cannot do without additional resources is design and market fully exclusive designs right now or in two years time. That is an unfortunate reality.

    Meanwhile, if some buyers do think the new MKZ is on par with some of the brands you mention, so much the better for Lincoln right now. The inept executives have proven their uselessness, and if Lincoln survives, you will actually see some prestige product from them in the next few years.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    I agree with you. However, I wonder whether Ford Motor Co. can survive, long term, with just the Ford brand. It seems to me that Ford Motor Co. needs a luxury brand, but if not Lincoln, then what?
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,238
    edited November 2012
    is that various people cared enough to make 3792 posts related to the brand.

    It's a start.

    It's been more than a half-generation since Lincoln did anything really interesting and I'm guessing that it'll be most of the balance before they do it again. Anyone who remembers that Lincoln used to amount to anything will be dead or in the waiting room by the time anything worthwhile happens. At that point the brand will be starting with a clean slate, much like Hundai did a couple of years ago. Well, isn't that special.

    Where I work they preach (but don't practice) the concept that being nimble and quick is what wins the battle and the war. I guess something that takes 5-8 years qualifies as nimble somewhere, but not in today's economy.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,666
    Ford is doing great on its own right now so I'm not sure why you think Ford needs Lincoln to survive. If anything Lincoln is a cost center right now not a profit center. They could kill it tomorrow and Ford would be fine.

    Lincoln needs volume vehicles not niche halo vehicles. They need much better dealer service which they're also working on. This is a marathon, not a sprint and Ford can af-ford to wait a few years for all the pieces to fall into place.

    Anyone who understands business plans can see what Ford is doing with Lincoln. It may not be sexy and it may take longer than people want but it will pay off with profits much sooner and be more foundationally solid going forward.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    I hear you, right now things are okay for Ford and, in the short term, Lincoln is more a more of a negative than a positive for the company. The reason I suspect that Ford Motor Co will be handicapped without a luxury brand, in the long run, has to do with margins and market volatility. That is, profit margins tend to be greater on luxury cars than on mass market ones, and luxury brand volume is less sensitive in times of economic downturns. For these reasons, If Ford is unable to turn Lincoln around, it's my guess that the company will either buy a luxury brand or merge with another automaker. The best possibility for Ford, however, is to eventually restore Lincoln's position as a major luxury brand.

    As an aside, for the life of me I don't understand why Ford discontinued the Lincoln LS. I believe that was a mistake. Granted, the LS wasn't a great car, but discontinuing rather than improving it sent the message that Ford was giving up on differentiating Lincoln from its mass market brand. I think having Lincoln be primarily RWD, as Lexus is, would have helped Lincoln regain its luxury standing. The next Mustang platform could provide Lincoln with an opportunity to add some much needed excitement to the brand.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120
    I believe Lincoln's current lineup would make for some very nice Mercuries, but as Lincolns, they leave much to be desired. As it is, Lincoln is now what Mercury was - gussied-up Fords.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    Yes, you make the point well. Ford will need a viable luxury brand in the long run, just as every other company seems to agree. Even Hyundai and Kia are beginning to offer luxury models, and that effort will morph into a luxury brand at some point. Ford is fine now as Ford only short-term (in fact would be better off without Lincoln) but as Ford only their recent growth is now close to stalling, even while many other brands are showing doubl digit increases. It wouldn't take much for some other brands to steal some of that market share Ford has won back. Ford especially needs a luxury brand in Europe. BMW is weathering the downturn there much better than Ford and Opel and Vauxhall and Fiat.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,666
    for the life of me I don't understand why Ford discontinued the Lincoln LS. I believe that was a mistake. Granted, the LS wasn't a great car, but discontinuing rather than improving it sent the message that Ford was giving up on differentiating Lincoln from its mass market brand.

    I've related this before so the regulars can skip it. The LS was a great idea and a pretty good car (I bought one 6 months after it debuted) but it never had a viable business case. The Jag platform and engines were very expensive (just look at all the aluminum in the suspension). The business case was to sell it in Europe and do 100K/year total. That was never realistic. Plus PAG did not want Lincoln infringing on Jaguar so Lincoln never got the supercharged version of the Jag V8. Had they been able to shoehorn the 4.6L V8 in there on the assembly line that would have kept the costs down and allowed a higher performance version.

    I firmly believe that Mulally would have built a great global RWD sedan platform that would have been even better had he been hired a few years sooner or the economy had not collapsed. I think they are getting there with a global mustang and parts sharing with the Aussies but it's still just too expensive with limited short term payoff to do a true global RWD platform. But I do think it's coming - eventually.


    I think having Lincoln be primarily RWD, as Lexus is, would have helped Lincoln regain its luxury standing.


    Lexus is only primarily RWD if you count models. If you count sales it's a different story.

    October sales:

    RX 6,928
    GX+LX 1,275

    ES 5,971 CT+HS 1,202 Total FWD 7,173
    IS+GS+LS+LFA Total RWD 4,474

    If you were starting over would you rather have 2 vehicles that sell 13K per month or 6 different ones that only sell 6K per month?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    Hmm, hadn't thought of that. Interesting, though.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    edited November 2012
    I agree with each of your points.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    edited November 2012
    Good points! However, I think the main problem with most Lexus RWD models is with a so-so execution rather than the strategy.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,742
    As an aside, for the life of me I don't understand why Ford discontinued the Lincoln LS.

    It also didn't achieve the goal of bringing in younger buyers. According to one dealer I spoke with, sales were still skewing older. Gladys would come in after George died to trade in the Town Car when it was 3 years old but she wanted something smaller. They would try to sell her on a Sable but she would insist on another Lincoln because that's what George always bought every 3 years. So she would leave with an LS.

    But on a positive note, there were plenty of great 3 YO, V6 LS's available used.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    "It also didn't achieve the goal of bringing in younger buyers."

    From a styling standpoint, it was probably a mistake to the LS to position the LS as a low cost, American made alternative to the 5-Series. Part of the reason Gladys' children didn't buy the LS was that it looked unexciting.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,742
    Part of the reason Gladys' children didn't buy the LS was that it looked unexciting.

    IMHO, it was an inoffensive design - much like the 5 series it mimicked.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    However, all Allen's comments about the LS plan being well-taken, its understated looks were actually not unattractive at the time and have aged well. The interior, however, was cheap looking. It certainly was less anonymous-to-forgettable than the initial MKS and MKZ designs. It easily looked at least as "exciting" as the Lexus ES of that time. It was a good first effort, deservedly winning car of the year in 2000.

    The LS actually sold well initially, almost by itself in 2000 selling as many units as all of Lincoln does now. Sales remained above 30K until 2004, when after five years on the market, one would reasonably expect some significant updates. But inept executives did not see that level of sales as worthwhile maintaining an investment in (oh how things have changed). They could not figure out how to improve and update it for a reasonable cost, nor did they understand at the time how important it was to figure out some way to do so. Had Ford actually had a better idea for Jaguar than they did, both marques would have benefitted. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    Twelve years later, and despite well-received rear drive concepts like the 2002 Continental and the later MKR, no suitable replacement is yet on the horizon. However, like Allen, I believe the current team really gets it now, and we will see a RWD Lincoln one day again.

    Meanwhile, FWD/AWD architecture can and will be improved. Look at Audi for example. They have shown that there is no reason why the engine has to be installed in front of the front wheels as is done with most plebeian FWD vehicles. Even the 2014 Mazda6 has moved away from that "FWD look." Further, there is no reason why the AWD cannot be biased toward the rear. Better balance and handling are obvious results.

    Plus, keeping some FWD-based AWD vehicles in a lineup is just good sense. Those who are used to driving in snow for months of the year often prefer them to the seldom used advantages that RWD provides a luxury car driver.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,666
    By 2004 the LS was already dead internally. Even at 50K units there simply wasn't a business case to be had to keep making it. And the interior was cheap - it was my least favorite part of the vehicle which is why i added a wood dash kit to part of mine which helped a little.

    Had Mulally been in charge back then I think Lincoln would be entirely different today. But he wasn't and it isn't.

    But I do see a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn't a train.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    Again, agree with all your points. I do want to add though that Lincoln's "business case" prowess has been off the beam for a long time. Business cases only work well when those who make them are not inept. The business case for every MK model so far has been of the garbage in garbage out variety. I trust that Mulally has stopped that nonsense.
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