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Where Is Ford taking the Lincoln Motor Company?

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Comments

  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    They should build it. I'd probably buy it. An upscale S-80 sounds excellent to me. Why shouldn't Lincoln come up with a new "look". It worked for Cadillac.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    It's MKS, not MarkS.

    A new look is a fine idea. However, one that is so derivative of the premium Japanese stuff out there may not be the best "new" way to go. Both Cadillac and Chrysler created polarizing styles that were not reminiscent of Acura/Lexus/Infinity/VW Passat/BMW 5 Series, etc. Lincoln should look like an American car. How do you define that? I don't know. You know it when you see it.

    The Buick Lucerne is an example of the approach Lincoln apparently intends to take. It is modern, safe, attractive enough, and somewhat derivative. It hasn't created any splash in the market, like Chrysler and Cadillac did. Love it or hate it seems to generate more sales than pretty anonymity.

    The Japanese can toy with less exciting looks because the reputations of their premium brands (reliability, stellar re-sale, and high level of toys and gizmos). Lincoln unfortunately has low residual values, regardless of how reliability and quality have improved.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    ...why worry whether or not the brand survives? The market will indeed fill the void. People will shift increasingly to other cars if they perceive Lincoln to be a dying brand---because no one wants to be the guy driving the '60 Edsel on his block.

    The net result will be that all but Cadillac will remain of our once dominant luxury marques---Pierce-Arrow, Packard, Deusenberg, Marmon, among others have all fallen by the wayside. The American auto industry will be marginalised...and a larger proportion of 'foreign' labels will control the market. The decisions about where, how, and how many people are employed within the industry in this country will not be made in America. If we are weak within our own nation it will adversely affect sales overseas---where profits are strongest at the current time. By marginalising brands like Lincoln, eventually they will marginalise and limit their ability to respond to the market without creating wholly new brands---further weakening their position.

    One in ten jobs in America are tied to the auto industry, one in seven in Germany, one in six in Great Britain. Unless new industries rise to take their place in terms of prominance, the loss of leadership and market position by American firms will have long term, perhaps serious, consequences for our economy, not the least of which is our ability to respond to a national emergency requiring the use of all our economic might. If long term ownership and manufacturing shifts outside America into foreign hands, even within our own nation, capital will flow out of America rather than into it; our ability to maintain the dollar as the reserve currency of the world will be adversely affected, along with our living standard. We will always fight for our ideals, but are we willing to defend our economic position?

    The sky hasn't fallen yet, but Ford Motor without Lincoln, a marginalised Lincoln, will be hard-pressed even to regain the share it has lost in the last six years since Mr. Ford assumed the Chairmanship of the company. "What-me-worry?" will take on a new meaning... Mr. Ford already said that he would consider "negotiation" with another firm in the same manner as Nissan Renault (July 22-06). Sergio Marchione of Fiat has not ruled that out either, so a Ford-Fiat tie-up might happen. In both cases, GM and Ford, public confidence in both firms will be shaken, and increase the market position of the competitors they never thought could challenge them. American directed dominance of the auto market will wane---leaving fewer choices for the consumer. ...Pontiac's might become rebodied Nissan's, and rather than a Volvo, Lincoln's might become a rebodied Alfa-Romeo!

    ...and some might say that GM and Ford have had their day, that by merging or forming an alliance with foreign firms rather than purchase them to survive, that the foreign firms have won the day. Some will say that DaimlerChrysler sets the pattern for the future of auto manufacturing in this country: foreign investment and merger revitalising tried and true American (for that matter other foreign brands) If Daimler can do it for Chrysler, and BMW can do it for Rolls-Royce, VWAG for Bentley, then why can't both GM and specifically Ford do it within their own family?

    DouglasR

    (Sources: Detroit Free Press; Edmunds Online)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    "It's MKS, not MarkS."

    Actually, I have now seen several magazine articles that made a point of saying it is Mark S, not MKS. Clearly, there is confusion over this naming structure. I hate models named with letters, and I can't figure out why the carmakers think it is so glorious.

    But having models people are not even sure of the name of is not a good way for Lincoln to find its way into the future.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • scootertrashscootertrash Posts: 698
    They gave up on their re-education plan and have abandoned the effort to instruct us how to pronounce the name to their liking.
    It's MKS. Not Mark S

    Or, as I prefer, "Mc-S" as in McNuggets or McMuffin.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    "The Buick Lucerne is an example of the approach Lincoln apparently intends to take."

    For the record, MarkS, MKS, or McS, I HATE the Lucerne, and if that's the only idea Lincoln has, I'm staying with Lexus.

    With Lexus, I can get all the boring, uninspiring styling inside and outside that I need, and a great car too. :confuse:
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    ....48 years ago today, July 27, 1958 the final touches were being put on the full scale clay models for the '61 Lincoln...McNamara arriving unanounced to see the final work before the presentation...and what he saw gave him the confidence to bring HF II into the design studio with George Walker...telling him that the Engle Clay had to become the new Lincoln or they might as well discontinue the car.

    If Lincoln's fate it to be hitched to the Ford 500 for now, built in Chicago, with perhaps a reprieve for Town Car in St. Thomas...then the ball truly is in Mr. Horbury's hands. If there is to be a viable Lincoln to match Cadillac---with Cadillac revamping its ad campaign to capture even more new buyers---then what-ever-he-can-do on the Volvo chassis and the Ford chassis will have to carry the flag. Until such time as Ford Motor ends its doll-drums and returned to a healthy cash flow allowing expansion of Lincoln. GM posted a $450 per car profit for the quarter after special items---buying out workers---so it is possible for Ford to reach the same goal if GM can.

    And it is entirely possible with Fiat returning to America with Alfa-Romeo that a Ford-Fiat alliance may be in the offing. Sergio Marchione, CEO of Fiat was told that "he was smoking something illegal" when he announced he would bring Fiat back to profitability and reach a 4% return. Well...he's nearly done that. So if beleaugered Fiat can make it back into the black and be brave enough to consider coming back to America---then so too can Mr. Horbury bring back Lincoln despite Mr. Fields desire to keep Lincoln on the lower end of the scale.

    I just hope the back-room-boys at Dearborn and the studios at Irvine, and the far side of the Thames in London are working furiously to save Lincoln.

    DouglasR

    (Sources: Conversations with Ford designer Jim Quinlin, 1973, Detroit; FT, WSJ)
  • scootertrashscootertrash Posts: 698
    What a brave move- Imagine giving the green light to the clean 61 Continental when the showrooms were filled with the over-the-top 1959 models. They knew fins had run their course.

    Doug- Despite the sadly ludicrous "Bold Moves" campaign, have you seen a single shred of evidence that anyone at Ford has the vision or cojones to pull such a move today?
    I'd love to hear your take on Lincoln's present and future, not the Eisenhower-era past.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,320
    Obviously, the gentleman is an historian, not a profit.
  • scootertrashscootertrash Posts: 698
    Exactly!

    The point of this whole discussion is that Ford has neither profits, nor prophets.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,320
    Scooter: Thank you for correcting my spelling. I try to profit from my mistakes. Have a great weekend.
    Euphonium ;)
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    "with perhaps a reprieve for Town Car in St. Thomas.."

    If my sources are not lyin' to me, there will be no reprieve. The current Town Car, CV and GM all have the fuel tank positioned in a place that will not pass DOT standards for 08 - so rather than re-engineer the cars, they're putting those resources into new product.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    The future of Town Car and Wixom, indeed died on the cusp of a new standard enacted three years ago.

    Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, (49CFR571.301), Title 49, Volume 5, Section 571.301, commonly referred to as FMVSS 301 allows for a complete change in crash standards, phased in, from 2004 for fuel tank safety. The law reads in part (section 5.5), that fuel tank spillage in a 81 km/h rear barrier crash: "shall not exceed 28 g(rams) from impact until the motion of the vehicle has ceased...and not to exceed a total of 148 g within a 5 minute period..." 100% of production must reach this goal no later than September 1, 2008, with manufacturers of less than 5,000 units getting a repreive through 2010. (The goal phased in at 40% for 2007, 70% 2008, and 100% 2009 model years). So its possible that 2008 could have been the last year for Town Car after a decade of production since this models inception in 1998.

    The Department of Energy, under direction of Presidential Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning & Review, calculates that the cost per vehicle is $5.08 for the modifications to each fuel tank (but not the overall design change), and that 4 to 11 fatalities will be avoided in average crash rates. The other factors of 301 allow for different types and speeds of crashes, both frontal, side, and rear, all falling within section 5.5 of 571.301. Section 6.2b sets the dateline for compliance. The bill was enacted in 2003---the very moment when the plans for Town Car had to be made to make 2007-8 production.

    Ergo, Ford Motor evidently would not spend the required capital investment to change the rear of the Town Car to absorb a 60mph impact with essentially minimal fuel spillage within 5 minutes after impact. Because to do so, they also would have had to spread the cost to Marquis and Crown Vic---those two cars Canadien made and thus not directly affected by the standard.

    The efficacy of the standard is borne out by the fact that it only takes .02 millijoules of electricity (the same level of static electricity released when you grab a metal doorknob after walking across a carpeted floor) to ignite gasoline vapor. The probability of vapor ignition falls to less than .03 or 3% that it WON'T ignite with even modest fuel vapor concentration---meaning that there is a 96.7% chance that it will ignite. So the FMVSS301 standard is designed to prevent vapor ignition, especially considering the higher level of electronic componentry now installed in cars (and why you should not talk on a cell phone when fueling a car!) that can cause fuel vapor and fuel ignition in a crash. And the increasing range of electronic frequencies used by cell phones, computers, and other devices that can effect a fuel tank. (I am well acquainted with this terrible reality, having had two cars ignite, one caused by looking under the hood with a flash-lite at nite when I smelled gas, and another when an unseen cracked plug wire ignited gas vapor around a new carburetor---both owners and cars survived!) This is especially important considering many vehicles now locate the battery in the rear of the car. Fuel vapor ignition was also cause for the explosion of an empty 747 centre fuel tank over NYC according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the FAA, causing an explosion, crash, and terrible loss of life.

    The standards are also being changed to coordinate with new hydrogen fuel tanks standards for duel fueled vehicles, and the new standards for personal water craft, snow-mobiles, and motorboats for 2008. The moment will come when cars are gasoline, ethanol, or hydrogen fueled and up to three crash resistant tanks must be onboard. The 301 Standard is designed to accomodate that eventual reality.

    While the DOE's calculations are $5 a car, that is a cost basis spread out over millions of units, it does not take into account the change in engineering required to the rear end of a car to prevent the gas tank from being dramatically effected in a collision. This, then, is what Ford Motor addressed in 2003 whether to re-engineer the Town Car and leave the bulk of the chassis alone. Obviously, if you are going to change 30% of the design for one standard, it is not cost effective unless your sales are increasing. TC sales were decreasing at a minimal rate, and the car was then 6 years into its production. All the more reason why a similar car to Chrysler 300 should have been built...

    ...but Mr. Fields has indicated today (07-31-06, Automotive News) that the next generation FMC products, Lincoln included, will utilise 5-7 speed transmissions within new drivelines to reach historically higher fuel economy and performance numbers. Perhaps a 'Lincoln Stilletto' with a DOHC engine, and 7 speed AWD transmission driveline, and an aluminum bodyshell is in the offing---fast, furious, and fuel efficient...all in one package.

    ...While Japan now makes more cars outside Japan and more here than in their homeland, there might remain a glimmer of hope that in this change, Lincoln can capitolize on a new future. As Lincoln goes...so goes the nation.

    DouglasR

    (Sources: U.S. Government Printing Office, Department of Transportaion, Department of Energy, House Select Committe on Transportation, Automotive News; Fuel Vapor Ignition Probabilities Calculations, MIT, SAE)
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    Kenneth Leet, an 18 year veteran of Goldman-Sachs Mergers & Aqusitions branch in London had been brought into Ford Motor with the support of Board Members Robert E. Rubin and John E. Thornton. Mr. Leet's new office will be down the hall from Mr. Ford at the Glass House, allowing Mr. Leet will report directly to Mr. Ford. The announcement of this move expected today (08-2-06), and a harbinger of things to come.

    According to the WSJ, Mr Leet will put all options on the table for the Ford Motor Board. The 50 members of the 'Way Forward' Planning committee will be bypassed, or consulted indirectly, in this latest revision to Ford's plan for a return to profitability in North America. Ford lost its #2 position in July to Toyota: 239,969 sales (16.1% share) to Toyo's 241,826 (16.2% share) of the market. Ford Motor having declined 14.3% over 2005, while Toyota gained 11.7% in sales---allowing for the switch in fortunes. Perhaps the cloisene in the Ford badge should be changed to red.

    Will Ford merge with Fiat, a company planning to return to America with Alfa-Romeo? Will Mr. Leet put the "Cat" on the auction block---selling off Jaguar & Astons (whose fates are interlinked)---either to GM, Toyota, VWAG, or even Honda or Hyundai? Will the esteemed Mr. Leet put Ford Motor Credit up for sale, as Hertz was spun-off like Visteon before it? October 1, 2006 will tell, when the latest version of Ford Motor's plans for profitability: Way Forward II, is unveiled.

    Mr. Fields will be forced to play second fiddle to Mr. Leet's new score. With PAG having lost money in Q2 vis a vis 2005, (losing $835 a car), Mr. Fields former bailiwick will now seem to act as an anchor around his ankles, and perhaps his fortunes---Mr. Leet will surely listen to what the North American Operations President has to say, but realise that Ford must return to its core business to beat the competition---leaving Mr. Fields in left field. The "King" will listen now to a new ear.

    Like a rapier cutting through the winds of change, with Jaguar/Astons cut loose, Ford will have little choice but to lavish what cash it realised from Jaguar's sale on Lincoln---the pendulum coming back full swing. The success of Zephyr proving the brand is not dead (yet), and also must challenge the new advertising campaign at Cadillac and BMW for market position. Why any new Lincoln ought to be called "Stilletto"---for it must cut through the buyers minds and the market-place the garner attention and sales. What Mark S(tilletto) could surely stand for...all borrowing aluminum technology Ford has learned at Astons/Jaguar.

    Perhaps Mr. Leet will see, that Lincoln might still be saved on the cusp of all that was learned across the pond, and made to challenge Audi and BMW, and edge out Lexus and Cadillac. The bells are tolling for Lincoln...but now its Mr. Leet's Line that will tell.

    DouglasR

    (Sources: WSJ, Automotive News, London Times)
  • Wow, Lincoln-Mercury's sales volume was down 35% over the last year. That's with Zephyr, Milan and Montego (forgot that one, didn't ya'?)

    Ford needs to pawn it's usless jewelry. Keep Volvo and Mazda and run like hell from the British Isles.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,320
    In your opinion, why not replace the Town Car with the Jaguar XJ8 giving potential buyers a big change in style and a more numerous dealer network?

    The continuing education of dealer techs would cost less than taking a big loss on selling the Jaguar assets.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    IMO a big selling point to traditional retail Town Car buyers is that it is a domestic product. I don't know if replacing it with an import of much different qualities (and price) would succeed.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120
    ...is old-fashioned and out-dated, but it's dependable. I'd purchase a Town Car long before anything based on Jaguar. At least I could count on a Town Car getting me to and from work. Ford would be super-stupid to try that strategy. Why don't they simply follow the example set by Cadillac?
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,415
    If the current decision makers at Lincoln (and Jaguar) had any clue, Lincoln (and Jaguar) wouldn't be in their worlds of hurt. The big Jaguar sedan is now reliable and well-engineered. But what a boring body! It is as if the Ford influence said, "let's do a careful, timid update and run it by the focus groups," and then, well, there you go. Might as well have stayed with the old body and saved the money...like Ford shortsightedly has been doing for years. Changing the front, rear and interior on the same body is about as effective in generating sales, as Jaguar doing a total restyle no one notices.
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