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Old 09-07-2011, 06:02 PM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Ford spends $1B, plans 7 new models to reposition Lincoln

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After several failed tries, Ford Motor Co. vows that this time, its revival of the ailing Lincoln brand will succeed.

Lincoln, whose sales zenith exceeded 231,000 cars in 1990, is at the bottom of the luxury brands today, with U.S. sales of 57,800 through August.

Dearborn-based Ford has a lot riding on Lincoln's recovery — and not just its $1 billion commitment to the effort. Successful global automakers need a luxury brand for buyers to move up to, or risk losing a high-margin sale to the competition. Think Toyota and Lexus; Chevrolet and Cadillac; Honda and Acura.

Ford executives say the distractions are gone now — namely the Mercury, Volvo, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Mazda brands, which were part of the Ford family but have been jettisoned in recent years. Only mainstream Ford and premium Lincoln are left to vie for the automaker's resources and management attention.

Ford lured designer Max Wolff from Cadillac, giving him a design studio separate from Ford brand projects. A team of about 120 designers, engineers and marketing personnel are dedicated to reimagining Lincoln.
They'll roll out seven new Lincolns by 2014 to try to stake a bigger claim in the luxury market. In addition to updating the MKS, MKZ, MKX, MKT and Navigator, Lincoln will add a compact car.

Derrick Kuzak, head of product development, insists the new Lincolns won't be rebadged Fords. While they may share underpinnings, he said, the similarities end there.

New Lincolns, for example, will include fully retractable glass roofs and push-button electronic gear selectors, freeing space in the center console."If it looks different than a Ford, customers might be willing to pay more for it," said analyst Dave Sullivan of research and forecasting firm AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor.

"Lincoln cannot survive as a Ford trim level. That won't cut it anymore."
Goal is a unique experience

Lincoln's success as a premium brand in the United States will be measured by how it competes against Cadillac and Lexus, Kuzak said in an overview of future plans for Lincoln.

"We need to reposition Lincoln," he said.
The Dearborn automaker wants its cars and crossovers to provide a unique driving experience — the responsiveness of a BMW and the comfort of a Lexus, Kuzak said.

Sullivan said the strategy could work: Aim for BMW handling and make up for any shortcomings with an affordable, fuel-efficient and technologically advanced vehicle with a more luxurious interior.

Rebecca Lindland, analyst with IHS Automotive Inc. in Greenwich, Conn., has seen some of the new designs.

"I was really impressed, far more than I expected to be," she said.
"People might be underestimating what we have planned for Lincoln," said J Mays, the automaker's head of design and chief creative officer.

"Lincoln is going to shoot up quite a lot higher than it is today."
That is necessary, Sullivan said, because in its current form, "I don't know anybody who aspires to get a Lincoln."

Ford has asked buyers and dealers to accept on faith that the new Lincolns are coming. But time is of the essence.

Auto shows have come and gone in recent years with no new Lincoln offerings. Finally, a revamped MKS will be unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show in November and a concept of the next-generation MKZ will be unwrapped at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

While work continues behind the scenes at Lincoln, its competition is charging ahead. GM has been overhauling Cadillac and revitalizing its Buick lineup; traditional German luxury brands show no signs of losing ground.
Decline came over time

Lincoln's descent didn't happen overnight.
Following its 1990 sales peak, when it was the top luxury brand, the nameplate had a resurgence from 1998-2000 and enjoyed a brief, golden period as part of the Ford Premier Automotive Group. That unit was formed in 1999 to oversee the automaker's high-end marquees: Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

For the first time in 50 years, Lincoln had its own designers and engineers and the brand flourished with its new lineup and image.

But the absurdity of housing domestic Lincoln with the European imports, in California, as part of a group run by a German executive based in London became evident, and Lincoln was repatriated to Dearborn in 2002.
Things took a turn for the worse.

While Cadillac invested in new rear-drive cars, Lincoln's rear-drive sedans were starved of cash, and its new offerings were rebadged, front-wheel-drive Fords.Mays said he and about four other design directors have made attempts to reinvent Lincoln since 1997, but "every time we crept up and leveled off. Part of that is because we were more interested in the PAG (Premier Automotive Group) brands."

Ford shed those exotic brands under the tenure of CEO Alan Mulally, who took over Ford in 2006.

But Lincoln still lacked direction, and sales have been in decline for a decade.

Ford insists the direction is clear this time. In addition to the design studio, Lincoln has its own powertrain engineers. While there will be engine-sharing with other Ford products, the calibration and the throaty V-8 sound from a V-6 will be uniquely Lincoln.

All its models will offer all-wheel drive, and there will be eight-speed automatic transmissions; Ford counterparts start with six.

The cars will have an electronic chassis control suspension system, active noise control and electric steering.

And technology unique to Lincoln, to attract young, educated progressive luxury buyers. "To grow the brand," Kuzak explained, "we need a new base of customers and that requires technology that is intuitive and useful" without alienating current customers.

Vincent Trasatti Jr., owner of East West Lincoln in New Carollton, Md., said he thinks the emphasis on technology will resonate with shoppers.
"It will help identify Lincoln as trendy and sophisticated buyers," he said.
"I feel great about Lincoln. It is finally getting the management attention it deserves."

Trasatti and the other Lincoln dealers are part of the plan. Starting this month, dealers are being measured against new standards for signs, staff and training, showrooms, lounges, car washes and other amenities to pamper customers.

Ford is also on track to reduce dealerships in the top 130 metropolitan U.S. markets from 500 to 325.

Kuzak believes the efforts are not too little, too late.
"It is always the right time to introduce great products," he said.
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:17 PM   #2
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Ok. I hope they've gotten the point.

Lip service until it shows.

And V8 sound from a V6 doesn't sound like they have it.

V8s are V8s. V6s are V6s, they have a different firing order, and sound isn't the whole thing.
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:15 PM   #3
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Lincoln EVOS?
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:56 PM   #4
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I thought the point of the article was that Ford and Lincoln were getting further apart, and not re-branding the same cars between them.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:25 PM   #5
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I might not be the biggest fan of Lexus, but I do find their product more desirable than Toyota. Similarly, I'm not the biggest fan of Cadillac, but I find them to be A LOT more desirable than most Chevrolets. The same can be said about Audi, Infiniti, Acura, etc.

Except Lincoln. None of their cars are more desirable to me than a similarly sized Ford. I can't stand that stupid grille, and I can't stand the old folks interior. It's quite amazing how horribly Ford has been failing with Lincoln, given how successful they were at managing most other brands they used to have.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:28 PM   #6
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Umm...seems like a re-warming of all the same old crap. There's nothing in the Lincoln lineup that a loaded Ford version of the same doesn't do.
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:52 PM   #7
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Umm...seems like a re-warming of all the same old crap. There's nothing in the Lincoln lineup that a loaded Ford version of the same doesn't do.
That is the point of the article. They say they are pushing Lincoln away from that, and farther up-market.
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
That is the point of the article. They say they are pushing Lincoln away from that, and farther up-market.
Yes by doing things like
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New Lincolns, for example, will include fully retractable glass roofs and push-button electronic gear selectors, freeing space in the center console."If it looks different than a Ford, customers might be willing to pay more for it,"
Sorry I found that funny.
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:58 AM   #9
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Sorry I found that funny.
It's the same thing other automakers do. It's only one level above badge engineering, but that's reality. The only truly unique upscale brands are ones that have no 'every day' brand.
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:36 AM   #10
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They're going to share the same engines, except maybe for a flagship car. With the industry's cost structure they won't be able to afford a separate engine lineup. Expect that 3.5 and 2.0 Ecoboost in just about everything then. Turbo AWD Lincoln with 8 speed slushbox or maybe a dual clutch tranny sourced from one of the main suppliers like Getrag.

I wonder if some kind of halo car, a CTS-V competitor, would reignite interest in the brand.
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:43 AM   #11
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I wonder if some kind of halo car, a CTS-V competitor, would reignite interest in the brand.
Mark IX
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Old 09-08-2011, 12:31 PM   #12
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I've been calling for a seriously upgraded S197-chassis-based Lincoln Grand Touring Coupe for a while now, since Mercury's demise was officially announced, and a new Cougar/Capri became a moot point.

With an automated-clutch gearbox, they could go the way of Jaguar, and have a non-traditional drive selection mechanism, instead of a dummy-stick that is just an array of electrical switches underneath, anyway. If they actually wanted to, I think they could fit all the transmission drive commands onto the paddle shifters, and maybe one or two steering wheel buttons, and not have them housed on the center console at all.

Pull both paddles simultaneously toward the wheel to engage "drive" or re-engage automatic shifting mode after being in manual-shifting mode.
Push them both toward the dash for more than 1-second to engage reverse, from a standing stop, with the brake applied.
Maybe one button to engage park/neutral mode... possibly integrated with the increasing application of an electronically actuated parking brake. Maybe with that button closely associated with the engine start/stop button, since it should be equipped with a proximity keyless entry, anti-theft, and keyless/remote start system.


A folding hard top would have some caché, from the original Ford Sunliner, especially if they can make the car look as sleek with the top up, as the Lotus Elite concept.

I for one, like the bow-wave grille and the refined, and modest art-deco styling with clean surfaces and lines. Especially the MKS-EcoBoost with the dark-chrome grille, and darkened headlights, and a sleek angle. Something like that refined onto an MKR 4-door 4-seat sport sedan, and 2-door 2+2 folding hardtop pairing, aimed straight at CTS sedan and Coupe, could be very good.

Ford has the engines, that isn't the problem. They could pair any of the the 3.7, 3.5TT, 5.0 (even Boss-like upgraded), and 5.4 Supercharged engines with that car.

Regular CTS doesn't have a moderate V8 engine option. It is either V6 in a heavy car, or balls-to-the-wall -V model with the full boat LSA engine.

I'd love to see a 3-prong, 2 or 3 body-style lincoln attack, with a V6, V8/V6TT, and Supercharged V8 limited edition, in sport-sedan, folding-coupe, and maybe even touring wagon guise. The touring wagon could replace the MKX.

Even better if it is longitudinal AWD optional, as the CTS-4 is, with an automated-clutch gearbox, rather than a slush-box with a torque converter. I don't expect Lincoln to try a manual gearbox again, after LS's reception.

Last edited by HipToBeSquare; 09-08-2011 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:45 PM   #13
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I have a feeling $1B isn't going to be enough. They're going to need 3X that.
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:10 PM   #14
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I have a feeling $1B isn't going to be enough. They're going to need 3X that.
I agree.

It sounds like they're going to take the *worst of Lincoln and make it worse.

Last edited by Allch Chcar; 09-09-2011 at 01:28 PM. Reason: ack
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:42 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Rootus View Post
It's the same thing other automakers do. It's only one level above badge engineering, but that's reality. The only truly unique upscale brands are ones that have no 'every day' brand.
But VW/Audi and GM/Caddilac have some badge engineered products to flesh out the lines, but there are many core products (CTS, STS, A4, A6,) that make a difference. Usually it's a different size, or a different motor. Lincoln is ford one-to-one at a level that's pure GM of the '80s.

All I see in this plan is taking the new Ford stuff and adding gadgets. The Ford products are nice enough to not warrant the $$
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:35 PM   #16
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It's quite amazing how horribly Ford has been failing with Lincoln, given how successful they were at managing most other brands they used to have.
yes, they did absolute wonders for volvo's reputation for reliability, and brought the prestige of owning a jaguar to a whole new level. i'd say they managed those brands nearly as well as bobby brown managed whitney houston's career, or at least as well as don king managed mike tyson's finances
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Old 09-09-2011, 01:39 AM   #17
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Umm...seems like a re-warming of all the same old crap. There's nothing in the Lincoln lineup that a loaded Ford version of the same doesn't do.
Bingo.

Maybe Lincoln could actually sell some cars if they stopped badge engineering existing Ford models. It seems to me that Ford tried to take Lincoln down market with a few of those new models, the Lincoln version of the Mazda 6/Ford Fusion and the MKS and it failed miserably. Meanwhile, GM has taken Cadillac upmarket with new, unique vehicles and it's worked well.
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:34 AM   #18
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they aint never gunna learn...
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:43 AM   #19
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When your company is making cars that look like this :




you know something's gone horribly, horribly wrong.
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Old 09-09-2011, 01:11 PM   #20
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Ford should have just kept Jag as their premier brand. I wish them luck and hope they pull it off bit it will take more than 1B.
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:15 PM   #21
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When your company is making cars that look like this :




you know something's gone horribly, horribly wrong.
...+1
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Old 09-09-2011, 05:47 PM   #22
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I hope they introduce a truck with a carpet for the bed.
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Old 09-10-2011, 06:21 PM   #23
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yes, they did absolute wonders for volvo's reputation for reliability, and brought the prestige of owning a jaguar to a whole new level. i'd say they managed those brands nearly as well as bobby brown managed whitney houston's career, or at least as well as don king managed mike tyson's finances
Yes, I would say that Jaguar is producing much better cars than it ever did during the British Leyland days, thanks to the investment made during the Ford ownership. Ian Callum was a Ford guy, and he was hired during Ford ownership. The recent design-driven reinvention of Jaguar to me is nothing short of spectacular, and Tata hasn't owned Jag long enough to claim any credit on the turn around. (In products, although I'm sure the sales will eventually follow)

And as for Volvo's reliability, well I don't know what era you are speaking of, but I highly doubt that it is Ford that is responsible for the reliability issues that have been affecting every single European manufacturer since the 90s, with the possible exception of Porsche. The fact is that the Europeans don't seem to know how to do electronics properly, and yet not putting them in cars is simply not an option for a mainstream car maker at this point. My point is that Euro makers having reliability issue seems to have little to do with whether they used to be owned by Ford or not. And in fact, according to CR, Volvo is the second most reliable European brand after Porsche, ahead of Lexus, Mazda, and Nissan, and far ahead of BMW, MB, and VW.

Last edited by Len; 09-10-2011 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:10 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by ChiWRX View Post
When your company is making cars that look like this :




you know something's gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Might be my next car

The MKT is taking over the Town Car as the limo of choice from Lincoln.
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