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Where Is Ford taking the Lincoln Motor Company?

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  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    Yes, setting the new Nav grill aside as a single issue, it does seem Lincoln needs to settle on some sort of design theme that would identify a Lincoln vehicle in people's minds. There is a small common element now in the grills of the 07 Mark LT, the 07 MKZ and the proposed MKS. But then we have the very different Nav grill and the even more different (though historically Lincoln-themed) MKX grill.

    And that is only talking grills. The rest of the vehicles are all very disparate. The Nav and the Mark LT bear almost no family resemblance, even though they are chassis mates. The Town Car, MKZ and MKS could easily be designs from different manufacturers in different parts of the globe, if not for the Lincoln badging.

    I'm not talking adopting a cookie cutter look or different sizes of the same shape. I mean that a BMW looks like a BMW, an Audi looks like an Audi, a Mercedes looks like a Mercedes, a Cadillac looks like a Cadillac...even a Pontiac looks like a Pontiac. Lincoln needs to define again what a Lincoln looks like.
  • Lincoln needs to define again what a Lincoln looks like.

    As far as design theme goes, Lincoln is back to where it was in the 1950s, changing every 3 years without defining what a Lincoln should look like, or be. That didn't get settled until the 1961 Continental and held within the car lines.

    I'd have to think about design themes, other than grills, between such disparate vehicles as a Navigator and a MKZ. I think the concept Aviator and concept Continental did a good job of defining some commonalties, other than the grills.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Anyone see the new design for the lincoln MKS? It is much more sleek then the current Lincoln Zepher. Check it out on their web site.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    "The Escalade has a great new body, while the Nav makes do with the previous one."

    What you say is true, gregg - however, the Escalade was restyled, as were the other GM900T
    iterations of the new SUVs, to look more like, and resemble the Ford SUVs. They are higher like the Navigator and it's lesser cousins, and more square.
    I still contest that the new Escalade interior trumps the Navigator's, which so trumped CAdillac in 03, it was amazing any Cadillacs were sold. They would not have been, except for Ford bigotry and power issues.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    The new Navigator interior looks downgraded from the 03 version, whereas the 07 Escalade is a great leap forward for Cadillac, and would now sit well in a Mercedes or Land Rover.

    It doesn't matter if you think the GM iterations now look more like the Fords (which I don't see...GM really put out a balanced looking design front to back this time), the point is, they are new and look new, even if they do look more like the Ford products to some people than they did before. The Fords will still look like the 99 versions with new front clip and rear end styling. That never draws the buyer like a whole new, well-executed body does.

    That's why I think the over the top Nav grill will ultimately be a good decision. It will get the thing noticed--unlike the change, for example, from the 05 Explorer to the 06. Although the Explorer has a completely new front end, it only elicited yawns from most buyers of mid-size SUVs.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Yeah, what they DID do to the Explorer, inside and out, were NOT positives, IMO. That interior flat sucks to me, and the outside is a yawner, as you say, or worse.

    Well, the grille on the Navigator may get it noticed, but I'm not sure it will be a good thing. The 74 AMC Matador was noticed too....
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    The GMT900s LOOK new, but they aren't new. And the stupid third seat that still causes a hernia when you take it out is unacceptable to me. Do they have to be the last company on earth to discover what Ford showed them how to do 4 years ago? Nissan has copied it, Toyota is working on it for their next Land Cruiser/LX470, here GM brings out their "all new" SUVs, uh, well, not really, but they're cute! :lemon:
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    "Don't Let it Die..."

    James J. Nance, CEO of Packard, wrote in a memo during 1954 while Packard was spending $18Mn for a new V8 engine plant, and design. He was refering to his desire to revive the V12 Packard, and had directed his engineering Chief to look into building the V12 from the same tooling as the V8. May 27, 1953 Jesse G. Vincent responded to Nance that tooling expenses for both the V8 & V12: "should not be greatly in excess of the tooling now underway." As late as June 18, 1954 Packard still considered a V12 for 1956-57 in a note from Packard's Diretor of Purchasing Roger Bremer to Nance that the project was not dead. Nance replied: "Keep it alive...." The V12 was a response to the Mark II, and rumors about Eldorado Brougham.

    Packard's capital expenditures made by Jim Nance, sadly, were never sustained the sales of cars during his tennure as the last President of Packard Motors, attempting to revitalise the company. The V12 never saw the light of day. But Packard's Predictor Show Car of 1957, designed by Richard Teague forshadowed the 1958 Lincoln (and even the Edsel). Nance would leave Studebaker-Packard to take over Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln Division at the invitation of Henry Ford II and Earnest Breech in 1957. Yet the fascinating fact is that he seriously considered it as part of his plan to push Packard back into the top-line luxury market after having ceded it to Cadillac and Lincoln. He ran out of time and working capital.

    Mark Fields today may well be faced with the same situation with respect to Lincoln. Ford Motor has $25Bn in cash on hand, and an ample line of credit, yet its stock price is in the doldrums, and its ability to borrow heavily emasculated by its now junque status in the bond markets, and high risk factors asigned by Moody's and Standard & Poors---Ford Motor more likely to default on its loans than GM. So his field of maneouvre may well be prescribed by the Ford Finance Comittee. In a recent interivew in Motor Trend, he admits as much: "although Lincoln may become the volume brand at L-m dealers." adding: "Lincoln will inch up a bit upmarket but will remain at the lower end of the premium segment."

    Therein lies the rub. With Jaguar consuming so much captial to forestall its complete collapse in the market-place, despite the success of the XK, Lincoln is left with being repositioned within the Ford Motor Empire. At least there are "inches" to talk about. The demise, however, of Town Car and Wixom will present Lincoln with the same problems that Packard faced after WWII, when it had no top-line cars to sell, and in later years competed against Buick, Oldsmobile, and later Mercury for colume sales. Few of its top-line Caribbeans could capture enough sales to make a dent against Cadillac and Lincoln. Without Town Car, and a viable replacement, Lincoln will inch up in one direction, but ultimately it seems from Mr. Fields dual meaning, that Lincoln won't be seen as the player it once was within the Ford Motor Empire.

    Mr. Fields may well be in precisely the same position that James J. Nance was at Packard in 1953. Which way will Lincoln roll?

    DouglasR

    (Sources: 'Motor-Trend Magazine' July 2006; 'Fall of the Packard Motor Company', James W. Ward, Standford University Press, 1995. California.)
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    James J. Nance...the last President of Packard, had to overcome a company that had become complacent and/or moribund, revamp his factories, his products, energise his dealer network (in anticipation of increased sales), bring out new products, and find a way to keep sales consistent enough to finance expansion and future automobiles and engineering features. To that end he replaced executives, brought in new talent, spent $18Mn for an automated engine plant, planned a V8 & V12, spent $7Mn to equip a new auto-body and assembly line, replaced past advertising accounts with new ideas and fresh blood, plus flogging the product in many new venues (as TV was then) and reaching new customers. Packard had planned to GO BACK up-market as much as it had also planned to spread their product base, either acquiring or merging with another firm.

    Ford Motor would have surpassed GM as the premiere American Auto Manufacturer had it not lost almost 8% of its market-share and retained its traditional 25.7% share from 1998. The Nasser gamble would then have appeared to be a masterstroke. Of course, Ford acquired MORE capacity and more brands during the Nasser Era. So conversely Ford Motor should have roughly one third of the U.S. market today instead of less than 20%, its lowest since 1927. Lincoln receiving fewer investment dollars than many other divisions and products since then. The change in fortunes, losing one quarter of its market, certainly bad news.

    Packard routinely spent $31-$60 per vehicle between 1946-1954 on future engineering, (sometimes more than Cadillac)---roughly 6% of the purchase price at the time. Ford Motor today spends, similarly, 6.5% of its capital on R & D., about $300 per car---still one third to a quarter what they spend on Health Care per car! When VWAG upgraded its product line in the 1990's under Dr. Piech, VWAG's R & D spending increased to above 8% of capital expenditures---the improvements later showing up in the next generation of cars allowing VWAG to hold its position, and gain (in the case of Audi) many new customers. Precisely the same strategy used by Toyota and Honda when they were trying to crack the American market.

    When Nance took on Packard, having come from Hotpoint, Packard sold 146,441 cars in 1948-9, and 106,040 in 1950, and another 100,312 in 1951 with the all new 23rd & 24th Series cars. Nance planned on volumes of 120,000 cars to 150,000 cars for the future. Thus he made his capital investments based upon that...only to see Packard plummet in the market due to many circumstances. In 1952 when Packard was planning its V8 & V12 motors, Lincoln sold 27,271 cars while at the same time it launched the Mark II Division planning and design under William Clay Ford Sr. Some of Lincolns lowest production years came at a time when Lincoln and Ford Motor decided to heavily invest in Lincoln for its future.

    Mr. Fields today is working from a similar situation, both in terms of Mr. Nance at Packard---Lincoln only recently having passed Cadillac only to fall precipitously in the market-place; and William Clay Ford at Continental and Lincoln, wanting to revive the brand at a time when Lincoln sales were declining and very small. Work on the '52 Lincoln had often been done by executives 'moon-lighting' at home in order to preserve the brand from extinction at the hands of Earnest Breech in 1949-51. Now Mr. Fields is tasked with "saving" Lincoln, thus it falls under his rubric. So he is, without doubt, taking the path the James J. Nance of Packard did: closing "inefficient" factories, discarding old ways and means of doing things, shaking up the rank and file, planning for a future based on LXY,CXY units---hoping his numbers will be borne out and further attrition not needed. Coming from IBM to run an auto unit, he is not unike James J. Nance coming from GE's Hotpoint at the behest of Corporate Treasurer Hugh Ferry at Packard to run Packard Motor, only this time Mr. Fields unlike Nance, was hired by a member of the Ford family, (Nance also asked by HF II to run a division of the company after Packard failed!) Wanting indeed to repeat the 80% market pennetration now enjoyed in 2006 by Ford-Brasil within its position against other makes, after having nearly quit Brasil in 1998!, for almost any of the brands he takes on.

    Mr. Fields is "skeptical" of moving Lincoln beyond the lower priced segment of the Premium Market. Zephyr acting very much like the old Zephyr in the 1930's, and also the 120 for Packard---the now successful entry-level car. Yet he should take note that one of the prime reasons why Packard sales plummeted, wreaking havoc on well laid plans of Mr. Nance, was that Packard had failed both the restart production of its premium cars after 1946 (selling the dies to Russia), and not balancing off its lower priced models with very high premium priced and exclusive models to compete above Lincoln, Cadillac and Imperial. The public expectation of what Packard was, against what it became sank the confidence of future buyers. James Ward writes in his treatise on Packard: "Packard did not so much as fall from great heights as to see other automkers climb up to them and offer the consumer the same comforts, in a larger range of models for a few hundred dollars less. Packards became less distinctive, and progressively cost them what was left of their reputation." Packard had become a competitor for Buick. And that is the risk Mr. Fields takes with Lincoln---making the cars less distinctive from the average fair or Hyundais.

    If no top-line model is offered or intimated, a notch above Town Car, in addition to retaining its traditional model, the public perception of what Lincoln is will permanently shift away from where it was---with declining sales. All that will be left will be a shadow of its former self, making it difficult for Lincoln to regain its pre-eminent position, much less sell the volumes that Mr. Fields anticipates and is now planning for. Zephyr is a great start, but now must come the icing on the cake: a Lincoln layer cake...far beyond Mark S. It will take about $500 per car from Ford Motor's spending to do it, not unlike what WCF Sr. had in 1952-55. Otherwise Mr. Fields will be leaving things to chance, or rather, 'Nance.

    DouglasR

    (sources: ibid, Ward; Standford; 'The Packard, 1942-1962' Nathaniel T. Dawes, A.S Barnes & Co, NY & London, 1975; 'The Lincoln MotorCar, Sixty Years of Excellence' Thomas E. Bonsall, Bookman Publishing, Baltimore 1981)
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    See, douglasr nails it, because Lincoln is an aspirational brand. And what gives the entry level buyer of the Zephyr a desire to own it, is that up the line at Lincoln, is a much more expensive and gorgeous performing model, that someday they want to own. Owning a Zephyr gets them in the club, and they can say, "I own a Lincoln".

    But, if there is no flagship to aspire to, why do I want a Zephyr? Why do I want a 3 series if there is only a 3 series? So, if the Town Car is cancelled, there is no semblance of a flagship left! I mean, it's not much of a flagship anymore, but it at least has a presence, it's nice looking and big. Still has some cache. Moronic not to make a nice Lincoln. If they're not going to bring something out, they should cancel the Zephyr.
  • heyjewelheyjewel Posts: 1,046
    " If they're not going to bring something out, they should cancel the Zephyr. "

    They DID. They're bringing out the MK Z or MKZ whatever.

    Well they will be bringing out a 'flagship' real soon now. Trouble is, it'll be flying the flag of it's mother country, Sweden, rather than Old Glory. Oh well, in a day when the Toyota Sienna is more "Made in AMerica" than the Ford Mustang, the phrase "What're ya gonna do?" waxes philosophic.

    Again I remind that I've seen the FF (future flagship) of Lincoln and it ain't the MK S or MKS, whatever. There's a bigger croc lurking in the Lincoln garage. It's superb looking, in a MKSS sorta way. Whaat'ya bet they call it the MK C or MKC whatever. I get to take another look pretty soon thanks to a Marketing Research company that apparently has a too-short list of Luxo-Sedan owners. I am looking forward to it. Can't say nothin more tho ... :>)

    Lastly, the other evening at dusk, I was rollin thru a small town near here when I was attracted by a real PRESENCE on the road. A car was coming toward me that demanded attention. It was a black 1960 or 61 suicide door Lincoln Continental. Man that is one bad-[non-permissible content removed] beautiful car. Looks great comin or goin. Nicely chromed (as opposed to the '07 Navigator) and stylish. If ONLY the "Brains" at Lincoln had gone further with the Continental concept. If ONLY they would reconsider doing so. That would be a Lincoln for a Zephyr owner to aspire to.
  • ehaaseehaase Posts: 328
    Again I remind that I've seen the FF (future flagship) of Lincoln and it ain't the MK S or MKS, whatever. There's a bigger croc lurking in the Lincoln garage

    Automotive News said that vehicle (D or E386) was cancelled.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    Yes, it has been reported several times that the flagship proposal was killed. Based on the Volvo (like the MKS), it just didn't work.
  • scootertrashscootertrash Posts: 698
    "Again I remind that I've seen the FF (future flagship) of Lincoln and it ain't the MK S or MKS, whatever. There's a bigger croc lurking in the Lincoln garage"

    Don't you mean "crock" As in "Lincoln's future is apparently a crock of..." ?
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    "Don't you mean "crock"

    Gee, scooter - when you put it that way, it sounds very negative! ;)
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    ...James J. Nance ran Packard as best he knew how, and at the end of the day Packard died; HF II hired him to run the MEL Division and it died too.

    ...Mr. Fields may not yet prove himself to be the 'Ghost of Nance Past', but the march of Lincoln at the moment proves that there remains a disconnect between the executives making the decisions and the market-place. The Ask Dr Z's campaign is an in-your-face slap at Bill Ford---while WCF tauts safety and environmental issues, Zetsche talks about cars. What is lacking at Lincoln, is the voice to save it, and the people to back it up. Mr. Fields may well feel that he is right---as most people believe that they are right from the start, till proven otherwise---but the reality remains that no product or future announcements have been made with respect to Lincoln, either the fate of Town Car, or its replacement. The public will not long wait for that either.

    The team at Ford may think they are doing the right thing, but from where I sit, all I see is opportunity missed---and one should never miss out on what does not know---and Mr. Fields appears not to know a great deal when it comes to Lincoln. It is clear that there remains a great majority of Americans wishing for greater cars from Lincoln, who do not wish to buy Lexus, Hyundai, or what-have-you.

    Just remember, (ohh not really, for few people know about it), the Packard Predictor, styled by Dick Teague under Bill Schmidt at Packard for 1957. The still-born car gave 14 other cars ideas, Edsel and 1958 Lincoln, not to mention 1963 Corvette and Pontiac, included. The kind of car that Lincoln needs to create today---something Mr. Horbury's Mark S tried to do as the 'poor-man's-Aston'. We can't forget that the current Town Car was borne of an Aston-Martin Show Car from 1995-96. Yet the type of car that Predictor was for Packard, is the kind of car that Lincoln needs now. Not to mention an evocative vehicle from times past.

    Let us not forget, that while Fields is fielding his ideas, Ford Motor long before had the where-with-all to build great cars, and still can. Let us hope that Mr. Nance' fate does not befall Lincoln and Mr. Fields.

    DouglasR
  • heyjewelheyjewel Posts: 1,046
    "Don't you mean "crock" As in "Lincoln's future is apparently a crock of..." ?

    Pretty cute, scoot.

    I didn't want to say 'Gator' cause they already got one of those.

    Some say it's cancelled, but ANT says they're working on a TC replacement. I figure that's what I've seen. And will see again today, unless I miss my guess. I'm quite interested in what they'll be showing now, as compared with last year and a half ago. Since it'll prolly be adjusted based on these focus groups, I have my doubts it'll be any 'better' from my point of view. My bet is the 'sportier' of the two will be gone and there'll be one model left. Hope they have an interior to look at this time. Last time it was balsa wood and putty. But that still looked better than the Caddy interior:>)

    I'll be signing an NDA so won't be able to post much but you all will see the fruits in a mere, what, 2 or 3 years!.

    If I walk in there and see a version of the Continental Concept, I'll start saving my pennies. Else, I doubt there's a Lincoln in my future what with the LS gone, the Navigator pimped-out for young Snoop-Doggs with braces, the MK X looking like a Gremlin with an AMC Spirit grille, the MK Z with it's blue-hair set D-L driving experience and made in Mexico production plate. Oh well. Had a Mark VIII, a Getrag LS and an '04 Gator. Nice run, Lincoln, but as George Harrison said before he passed "All things must Pass".

    Onward to view the MK FF or MK F'd whatever.
  • scootertrashscootertrash Posts: 698
    Lincoln's and Ford's REAL problem is not what concept car you're looking at, it's the fact that after a year and a half, they have made nothing more than additional clay models.
    Meanwhile, their Lincoln division is dying like an arm with a tournequette on it. Go or get off the pot.

    On an different note: Did anyone see today's interview with Carlos Ghosn? It sounds like he hinted Ford was interested in hooking up with him or Nissan/Renault. I hope that means Billy knows he's in over his head.
  • heyjewelheyjewel Posts: 1,046
    Well, I'm back from my focus group. And I can't say anything about what I saw. Anything specific that is. I can probably legally say that, based on what I saw today, there is no reason to believe that Lincoln has ANY clue what it is doing or where it wants to go. They seem to be throwing designs up against the wall to see what sticks. And apparently nothing is sticking.

    I will say that today's experience did nothing to reassure me that Ford has not cancelled the bigger Lincoln in the works. Cause this was not about that. Also, it did NOT reaffirm what ANT has said about Lincoln competing with Buick and not Cadillac as all the competition there were the big Luxo players incl Caddy, Acura, Infiniti and Lexus. No Buicks. I guess that's all. Nothing really substantial there. It really galls me though that Ford would pay an exhorbitant amount of money (that's my assumption) to a marketing research firm to do this "research" which when all is said and done amounts to "which grille do you like better"? For gawd's sake, Lincoln, take a look at your heritage and quit trying to be Japanese.

    BTW, IMHO Carlos Ghosn is clueless. Last thing Ford needs is ANYTHING to do with Renault. Ask anyone who's owned one.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    'They seem to be throwing designs up against and wall and see what sticks...' HJ has commented after seeing Lincoln's future. Desingers do that as a matter of course, but to present ideas in that fashion to the public shows just how out of touch Mr. Field's & Co seem to be. At the same moment Ford Motor cut its dividend in order to save $374Mn. Second Quarter results must show a larger loss for Ford Motor in North America---probably $750-850 a car, or close to $2Bn---given the shift away from trucks and towards cars. Mr. Ford remarks on that issue: "The product plans have that baked in...the Way Forward Plan did not anticipate how quickly the mix would shift."

    An astounding admission from Mr. Ford. The Way Forward Plan was announced this year, and anyone could see the rising demand for cars against SUV's. Given remarks of Mr. Horbury, we can see that Lincoln had placed its chips on more truck based vehicles ('Luxury for the Blue Jeans set), than cars, and now Lincoln is caught flat-footed. One more reason to keep Town Car alive. Wall-flower design testing merely means the arguments about what to do with Lincoln are really heating up within Ford Motor. At the same time Bill Ford has said few words about product specifics, just generalisations about types of vehicles---he could learn a thing or two from Bob Lutz. A peak into the future would do wonders to bolster public confidence in the Blue Oval.

    The open revolt at GM, with Kerkorian leading the take-over bid from the GM Board-room, will consume valuable time at GM, but its no doubt that if that romance fails, that Mr. Ghosn might be compelled to approach Ford---though he has already turned down Bill Ford once before---especially if Ford's market share dips below 18%. Though no one beleives for an instant Mr. Ghosn's claim he is not interested in running GM, he turned down WCF Jr. because he knew he would not be 'Top Man' at Ford Motor---he would always have to contend with the Ford Family.

    Therein leaves Lincoln. WCF Jr. needs a few ads and sneak previews of future Lincolns, Mercury and Ford cars---enough to tantalise, but not enough to give away the farm and kill sales of existing models. Mr. Ford should stop driving his Mustang for a while and start driving a Town Car. (But if he did that...he'd have to keep it alive...admitting that they paid for no new revisions to the car...and have to hustle to bring in a replacement or upgrade to the TC!)

    DouglasR

    (Sources: WSJ, NYT, FT)
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