In a last-ditch effort to save the ailing Lincoln luxury car brand, the Ford Motor Company is planning to invest $1 billion to reboot its image with new cars and revamped dealerships.
After years of declining sales and a product portfolio derived mostly from mainstream Ford offerings, the carmaker is looking to redefine itself in coming years as a performance rival to BMW with the amenities and refinement of Lexus. A tall order, indeed…
Lincoln spokesman Timothy Elliott provided a better explanation of what that meant at the Lincoln dealers meeting that took place with its larger franchises this month in Dearborn, but hasn’t released too many more specifics about the next-generation Lincolns to the public.
What we do know, however, is that in an effort to downsize the list of dealers and upgrade the brand’s exclusive image, Lincoln has told dealers in its top 120 metropolitan markets to invest between $1 million and $1.9 million per store, depending on whether it’s a Lincoln or Ford-Lincoln dual dealership, for renovations or face a franchise buyback. The Wall Street Journal is also reporting what several outlets have already outlined, that Lincoln plans to roll out seven new and significantly redesigned models between now and 2015 in an effort to boost its sales from 85,828 in 2010 to 162,000 by 2015.
This year, however, Lincoln expects to sell 78,000 vehicles. The brand’s first new product in its revitalized guise will likely be the new MKZ sedan, which will share its platform with the Ford Fusion European-market Mondeo family sedans. If rumors are to be trusted, its styling will be a drastic departure from the current car, and it will be able to achieve up to 48 mpg in hybrid form.
Recent feedback from Lincoln dealers has been that the brand’s products aren’t differentiated enough from lesser Fords on which they’re based, which has been a common refrain for years. After more than a decade of unsuccessful attempts to reinvent Lincoln, this go-around may be Ford’s last chance to save the 94-year-old brand before it’s forced pull the plug, a la the Mercury brand.
Source: The Wall Street Journal