This story has been updated with new information.
Aiming to rebuild its credibility in the hotly competitive luxury car market, Lincoln is pulling the wraps off a new line of limited-edition products it has dubbed the Black Label Collection.
Black Label models will feature “ultra-premium” exterior and interior design “themes” specifically crafted for individual models like the Lincoln MKZ and the upcoming MKC compact crossover. But all Lincoln models eventually be offered with at least several of these customized packages.
They will be paired with special services and support, meanwhile, including what Lincoln boss Jim Farley dubbed a “traveling trunk show,” with salespeople calling on potential buyers “at their home or office or favorite restaurant,” rather than requiring customers to come to showrooms.
The announcement was made at a preview in Pebble Beach, California where the annual Concours d’Elegance is drawing thousands of luxury car owners – and potential Liincoln customers — for the weekend. It is the latest in a series of steps Ford Motor Co.’s long-struggling luxury brand has been taking to expand its line-up and rebuild its share of a premium segment it once dominated.
And it is meant to show that Lincoln is in for the long-haul, said Farley, acknowledging that “(re-)building a luxury brand isn’t a one-day event.”
The Detroit-based maker showcased the new Black Label Collection with special MKZ and MKC Concept versions. The MKZ sedan, for example, will eventually have four different Black Label “themes,” including three Lincoln showed off at Pebble Beach:
- Indulgence might suggest a “love of chocolate,” explained design Janet Seymour, with dark, sumptuous interior colors and a rich cocoa metallic exterior. It also use will use very limited-edition Venetian leathers and South American Zirocate wood;
- Modern Heritage is meant to have an almost modern architectural feel, with clean white leathers and chrome flares, as well as a “renewed and re-engineered Arguito wood that features ingrained metallic flakes;
- Center Stage, which Seymour said was “inspired by theater,” and is likely to come across as the boldest of the themes with its black interior offset by bold Foxfire Red accents and Alcantara leather headliners.
- “Because Lincoln Black Label is our highest offering of the expression of personal luxury, we took our materials selections personally as well,” said Susan Lampinen, group chief designer, Color and Material Design. “We believe this personal touch and involvement will help separate Lincoln from other offerings.”
“Because Lincoln Black Label is our highest offering of the expression of personal luxury, we took our materials selections personally as well,” added Susan Lampinen, group chief designer, Color and Material Design. “We believe this personal touch and involvement will help separate Lincoln from other offerings.”
Lincoln is by no means the first maker to try to offer specialized interior packages to customers but it takes a different approach from, say, the Mercedes-Benz Designo line, where buyers can mix-and-match from a wide range of fabrics and materials. The Lincoln themes will feature largely pre-designed interiors, though there will still be numerous customization options including six Black Label exterior colors, various wheels and other trim, along with the normal line-up of options, such as audio and infotainment system.
In all, Farley suggested, the potential combinations run into the “thousands” for each vehicle.
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As for price, he also suggested a Black Label model will run “thousands” of dollars more than base Lincoln vehicles – but he stressed it will still be significantly less than what competitors charge for models such as those from Mercedes Designo, he promised.
The new sub-brand will debut next year, and it was clear from the comments of Farley and others that it is still a concept in progress, much like the broader Lincoln revival. The maker hopes to eventually add other concierge-style services to both the broad Lincoln brand, with even more exclusive benefits for Black Label customers. But details remain TBD.
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After years of neglect, Lincoln has been getting some significant attention – and new financial support – from parent Ford. The division was recently renamed the Lincoln Motor Co. and given its own design and engineering team. It is also getting a number of new products including the recently launched MKZ sedan and the upcoming MKC compact crossover. All-new versions of the MKS sedan and the aging Navigator SUV also are in the works.
Meanwhile, though Ford officials decline to discuss what might be coming after those four new models, CEO Alan Mulally recently told TheDetroitBureau.com that he has approved a number of additional products, a list expected to include a luxury sports coupe sharing the same basic platform as the next-generation Ford Mustang.
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