Contrary to popular belief, The Lincoln Motor Company is not dead - Yet
The Lincoln Motor Company is really just two vehicles, the MKZ sedan and the MKX crossover. In January both did very well compared to January 2013. The Navigator, MKS, and MKT are not really players in their segments. Combined their monthly sales add up to about 3 minutes of Camry production. Can The Lincoln Motor Company build back a brand with just 2 cars? Maybe it can.
Lincoln has a few things going for it. The styling is popular with those that like Lincolns. It is competitive in terms of power and fuel economy with the cars it wishes to displace in the driveways of customers, and Ford makes about a gazillion of the parts that underpin these Ford-based vehicles, which makes the cost of these cars good in comparison to say, Acura. Lincoln also has a great history. Sadly the people still living that remember that history are now Toyota and Lexus customers. Toyota and Lexus are not the easiest of brands from which to pry customers.
Lexus is doing some strong advertising. The commercials showing the young cool couple comparing a Lincoln to a Lexus run often. I know that because I am a fan of Lexus and they seem ridiculous to me. That’s OK though, because the particular Lexus models that Lincoln is trying to sell against are the ones I don’t care about, mainly the front-drive ES 350 and ES Hybrid. For the present, Lincoln targeting the ES makes some sense. It is a large segment (near-luxury or entry level luxury and front drive). So there are more customers even if you only get a small percentage of them overall.
The downside to Lincoln trying to rely on its past glory and trying to sell against near-luxury, front-drive cars is that a company called Tesla is now selling a luxury car about the same size as the Lincoln sedans and is about to launch a crossover the size of the MKX. It is all electric and all the cool kids want one. Lincoln is sort of fighting yesterday’s war. As I write this a Lincoln advertisement just came on the TV. It is called the “Uncover Luxury Event” and it all about how cheaply you can buy and finance a Lincoln. “Zero percent blah blah blah plus cash back and a free gerbil.” Rear-drive Teslas sell at sticker price and there is a waiting line.
Lincoln being up 43 percent in January sounds great, and it is great. However, with just under 6,000 cars in total sold in the month it is not a real brand anymore by any numerical measure. Maybe the up sales will continue long enough for the folks at headquarters (Ford headquarters) to decide to rejoin the luxury world and build a rear-drive Lincoln to really get back in the fight. Or they could just buy Tesla and call them Lincolns.