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Where Is Ford taking the Lincoln Motor Company?

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Comments

  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    This has happened to me many times, in many cars, including my Lexus. It is not aliens - it's my pocket and my key-fob. Sometimes, I open the trunk, set off the alarm, or if I hold the unlock button down accidently, it opens every window, the sunroof and unlocks the doors.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    edited April 2013
    The new RLX got a negative review in the Wall Street Journal. Among the comments, it said the RLX, Acura's flagship sedan, is little more than a larger, heavily contented Accord. While adapting Honda's FWD architecture to a car with E-Class and 5-Series fighting pretensions saved money, the result is a car that doesn't accomplish its mission, in the reviewer's opinion. Further, it's not even an effective competitor to the A-6 Quattro. Incidentally, Consumers Reports rated the 2013 A-6 best-in-class; better than the E-Class or 5-Series.

    Are you listening , Lincoln?

    It should be mentioned that the RLX will be available with AWD later this year. The AWD version will also have more power. I hope the WSJ tests that model too, to see whether that will make the RLX more competitive with its German rivals. And, let's not forget Cadillac, which just introduced an all-new, larger CTS to take on the Germans.

    As I read the WSJ review of the RLX I couldn't help but doubt whether Lincoln is going down the right path for a revival. Time will tell, but I don't think it is.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,622
    The good thing about selling cars is that hardly anyone pays attention to what automotive journalists say about a car, good or bad. If they like the styling, features and price then they'll buy it.

    Ford is going down the only road it can afford with Lincoln. GM is spending billions and billions on Cadillac trying to "beat the Germans" with limited success.

    Ford's plan for Lincoln is to start with unique sheetmetal and features, upgrade the dealership experience to be more Lexus like (this has only just begun and will take years), add unique powertrains (still in development), add higher volume luxury models (MKC e.g.) - all over the next few years.

    THEN they can start considering unique platforms. Trying to develop a halo vehicle right now would only make the journalists and a very few customers happy.

    Ford can afford to float Lincoln for a few years so they can afford to take their time and try to build the brand from the ground up.

    The biggest problem Lincoln has right now is vehicles like the MKZ keep getting compared to Ford vehicles like the Fusion instead of the true competition like the A6, ES, etc.

    E.g. - people complain about the 2.0EB being the base engine. Yet when you look at the Audi A6 and even the Jaguar XF - they both have the same 2.0L Turbo engine yet both produce less power than the MKZ and cost at least $10K more.

    Judging by the number of people who have waited for ordered MKZs for 6 months or more the buying public likes this vehicle and they shouldn't have any trouble selling 40k-50k without the overhead of a totally new platform.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Your argument is reasonable, but we'll have to see whether offering a dealership experience that's "more Lexus-like" and unique sheet metal will be enough for luxury car buyers who are used to owning successful luxury brands to cross shop Lincoln.

    A brand is at a disadvantage when a buyer has to explain why he/she chose it. BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus and even Cadillac don't require explaining, but Lincoln may in certain situations. Such a choice can put the buyer on the defensive with car enthusiasts. That's a head wind for Lincoln. Now, it's true that most luxury car buyers aren't enthusiasts, but enthusiasts exert a disproportionate influence on a brand's reputation and cache'.

    Another head wind for Lincoln is that there's nothing special about it. It's not known for performance, styling safety or comfort; doesn't stand above its peers in reliability, and it has below average prestige and dealer service in its class.

    I hope Lincoln overcomes these deficits because I'm a fan of domestic brands. I don't happen to own one now, but I've owned several in the past and would certainly consider one for my next purchase.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    edited April 2013
    Another head wind for Lincoln is that there's nothing special about it. It's not known for performance, styling safety or comfort; doesn't stand above its peers in reliability, and it has below average prestige and dealer service in its class.

    Well - I do agree about the lack of a "special quality" right now. I have felt for years, the Lincolns should have more power, larger engines (maybe not now, that's out of style), a consistent styling theme like Lincoln used to have with their former "Rolls-Royce" style grille - instantly identifyable to anybody. Until Lincoln Touch, Lincoln usually was 1 or 2 in the JD Power surveys, and Touch has killed Lincoln and Ford on the surveys. Overall though, Lincolns have consistently been very trouble free. Now, you mention Prestige - that's the saddest part of all. I drove Lincolns consistently from 1992-2006. When people saw you, or heard you had a Lincoln - they were impressed. That truly is now gone. The Navigator was the last vestige of respect, and it's been neglected so long now, it looks old enough to vote. Lincoln has become Ford's Buick.

    I drove an MKS the other day. It's very comfy, power is great with the EgoBoost (I know, I mis-spelled that on purpose), handling is good, it's very quiet, cabin is nice - not gorgeous, but nice. For $30,000 less than my Lexus, it would be a good buy, and I could drive it without complaint. BUT, when asked what it was, and I had to say "It's a Lincoln, and boy, it's JUST LIKE A LEXUS, really, it is, just LIKE one......". Even I don't buy it. And that's half of what a luxury car buyer wants; street cred. Lincoln no longer has ANY!

    From a former Cadillac owner, who drove them from 83-92, and left them out of disgust for what they had become - for the superior in every way Lincoln at that time, - then left Lincoln for Lexus in 06, it sure would be nice to see Lincoln do what Cadillac did and resurrect the brand. Opinions of Cadillac vary, but there is no harsher critic of GM than I am - and Cadillac has really re-established themselves as, at least, a premium, performance brand. Most models (cars at least), are a good value for the money now.

    I think the way Ford is going they'll get there - hope they can catch the rest though, because they're not standing still either.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,622
    Look at where Lexus started 20 years ago. They had even less brand recognition than Lincoln does now. It won't happen overnight. The key is continual improvement. And you can't tell me that Lexus ES and RX buyers get any more prestige from owning a Lexus than a Lincoln owner. Or Acura. Or Infiniti.

    It all depends on whether you want accolades or sales and profits.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Continual improvement has to be sufficient to catch or, preferably, surpass the competition that's also continually improving.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,622
    What does the ES have that the MKZ doesn't have?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    edited April 2013
    Sales. They may be equivalent in many ways, but the wide disparity in sales suggests that, for whatever reasons, buyers prefer the ES over the MKZ by a wide margin. Why?
  • marsha7marsha7 Posts: 3,661
    "Ford's plan for Lincoln is to start with unique sheetmetal and features, upgrade the dealership experience to be more Lexus like (this has only just begun and will take years)"

    Are there really enough Lincoln dealers out there to have a decent dealer network???...if they make them an extension of a Ford dealer, that will be like attaching a Lexus dealer next to the Camrys...
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,601
    Are there really enough Lincoln dealers out there to have a decent dealer network???

    The goal is to have about 325 Lincoln dealers in the United States. Further, Ford wants Lincoln stores to be stand alone from Ford stores. It's going to take time to do so.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,622
    buyers prefer the ES over the MKZ by a wide margin. Why?

    Because the new MKZ has only been on dealer lots for about 3-4 weeks. Geez - give it some time!
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,622
    There are still too many Lincoln dealers for the expected sales volume. Far more than their competitors.

    Part of the Lincoln turnaround plan is for dealers to build separate showrooms and staffs. A few have already started or are close to finishing but it will take a few years for the majority of the dealerships to catch up.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Yeah, that's only fair. I rushed to judgement, mainly because I see parallels between what Honda's been doing with Acura and what Ford's doing with Lincoln; saving on platforms. That's why I think Cadillac stands a better chance of succeeding against the current top luxury brands than Lincoln. Incidentally, my comments only refer to cars, not SUVs and crossovers, where RWD architecture may be less important. Therefore, on a blended sales basis Lincoln's strategy may ultimately be successful.

    As I mentioned recently, I hope Lincoln reestablishes itself as a leading luxury brand, as it once was. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
  • edward53edward53 Posts: 109
    edited April 2013
    It's simple what the Lexus has that no Lincoln has; it is that it's not considered to be an upscale version of its cheaper brother. I've looked at the sale of Lincoln as a whole the last few months and I have come to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter if Lincoln has its own platforms to work with because the consumer perception that Lincoln is nothing more than an upscale Ford is so ingrained in the consumer that convincing the consumer otherwise is going to take at least 10 yrs to do and I am afraid that Ford cannot wait ten years for Lincoln to even be considered a worthy alternative to Buick.
    All things being equal ,the new Lexus ES sold almost 6800 units in March while the new MKZ sold 2360 units in March. The 6800 Lexus ES units are just about equal to Lincolns' entire brand sales of 6825 units for March.

    Ford should just put a stake in Lincoln and call it dead.
  • edward53edward53 Posts: 109
    Cadillac sold over 15,000 thousand units in March. I would say that Cadillac is well on its way to succeeding in the premium market segment while Lincoln seems to be stuck in neutral still trying to be everything to everybody while not being especially appealing to anybody.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    Lincoln seems to have moved down to the slot once occupied by Mercury, but at a much higher price.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Allowing for overlapping, I'd say Lincoln is somewhere between where Mercury and Lincoln were when Lincoln was equivalent to Cadillac, in terms of its positioning. As others have mentioned, Lincoln now competes more with Buick than with Cadillac. Buick was half a notch above Mercury, as I recall.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,622
    Cadillac is putting out some nice vehicles but they're spending a FORTUNE to do it so the jury is still out on whether it will actually make any money long term. The ATS cannibalized CTS sales when it launched. Lincoln can probably turn a profit on half the Cadillac volume.

    I don't understand why Lexus can be successful selling the ES and RX which use shared FWD Toyota platforms but Lincoln has no hope of being successful doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING with shared Ford platforms. If you compare the ES and MKZ head to head the MKZ bests it in almost every category. And don't try to say it has anything to do with the IS, RS and LS RWD sedans. The people buying the ES and RX don't care.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Ford should just put a stake in Lincoln and call it dead.

    As should have GM with Cadillac in 1985, they had gone from the standard of the world to the worst car in the world, with the laughingstock of the world, the Cimarron. However, amazingly, they rebuilt themselves quite well. They'll likely never be the standard again, too much good competition has taken hold now, but they are respectable now. Even I somewhat admire them now that the interiors are getting luxurious, finally.

    Ford can do the same with Lincoln. Takes time, money and determination with a vision. Ford's biggest lifetime problem has been inconsistency. We'll see if they can overcome that when Mullaly quits. That's usually when they lose focus in years past. But I don't agree they should dump Lincoln. Handled property, it could become great again - they have to figure out what their niche, theme and mission is going to be though. Bigger Fords won't do it.

    Right now, BMW seems to be the standard everyone compares themselves to. Lexus is upgrading their models, even copying the interiors to make a "reliable BMW" and adding more sport ingredient into the cars. Cadillac has been chasing that elusive 5er for some time now, and have come close, albeit with a totally different skin, which differentiates them nicely, I think. BMW like performance with a unique styling theme.

    Lincoln has been looking for a theme, but hasn't got one yet. First, they put grilles on the MKX and Navigator that are supposed to remind us of the 61 Continental, but remind me of a Remington shaver. Then, they tried the 41 Continental look, but made it ghastly big. Pretty ghastly anyway. They have something better now coming out, but will it work and will it last? Will it become a consistent, recognizable look? We'll see. I hope they do. I liked my Lincolns with the Waterfall grilles. You could tell it was a Lincoln, and it looked stately and attractive, whichever model you drove. But no more.
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