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Cadillac and Lincoln Set to Go Head-to-Head in NY with New Flagships

But the real challenge comes from European, Japanese luxury brands.

by on Mar.30, 2015

Lincoln digs into its history to come up with an all-new Continental flagship concept sedan.

It’s been a busy year for luxury automakers who have unleashed a flood of new products at shows around the world in recent months. And the season will wrap up with the unveiling of such new models as the popular Lexus RX crossover, as well as the $205,000 Range Rover SVAutobiography at the New York Auto Show this week.

But two of Detroit’s two luxury brands are likely to capture much of the spotlight in the Big Apple as they roll out new flagship sedans that Cadillac and Lincoln hope will begin the process of rebuilding their once-lofty rolls in the high-line automotive market.

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Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand has been giving a select group of journalists a sneak peek at the new Continental sedan ahead of the NY Auto Show’s two-day media event. Cadillac has been only a wee bit more secretive about its own new flagship, dubbed the CT6.

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Ford Charges into China with New $760 mil Plant

Ford on the way to becoming China’s fourth-largest carmaker.

by on Mar.24, 2015

The new China plant will initially produce the Ford Edge but will have capacity for five other models.

Late to the Chinese party, Ford Motor Co. is playing a fast-paced game of catch-up. The Detroit maker’s latest move comes with the opening of a new, $760 million assembly plant in Hangzhou, about 100 miles southwest of Shanghai.

The new facility will bring to 1.2 million Ford’s rated annual capacity in China, and could position the company as the market’s fourth-largest manufacturer. But the Hangzhou plant opens just as the Chinese car market begins to cool, along with the rest of the economy, for the first time in more than a decade.

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Nonetheless, Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was on hand for the Tuesday plant dedication, was optimistic, declaring, “This world-class facility will help us accelerate the delivery of high-quality, innovative products to our customers in China.”

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Lincoln Changes MKX New Car Smell for China

Brand caters to cultural preferences with new entry.

by on Jan.13, 2015

The new car smell that Americans love so much, isn't well liked by the Chinese, which caused Lincoln some problems with the new MKX.

While the development of a new vehicle is a team effort, but at some point every bit of a car eventually falls into the hands of engineers.

“We are focused on delivering engaging and refined luxury vehicles with innovative and thoughtful technologies,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln, during the unveiling of the MKX at the North American International Auto Show. “The all-new Lincoln MKX reflects that focus.”

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In the case of the new MKX, engineers were faced with an unusual problem: interior odors. (more…)

GM Sets New October Sales Record in China

Lincoln expanding footprint there as economy begins to cool.

by on Nov.10, 2014

General Motors hit an October sales record of 291,371 vehicles in China.

General Motors routinely sell more cars in China than it does in the United States and October was no exception as GM and its joint ventures delivered 291,371 vehicles to customers in China last month, setting a new October record.

By comparison, GM sold 226,000 vehicles in the U.S. in October.

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GM also got some new competition in China as the Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln division also has begun its push into the Chinese market. Lincoln opened its first three stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKC

A new look and feel from an old brand.

by on Jun.11, 2014

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is more than just a new compact crossover, it shows that Lincoln actually can challenge key competitors like Acura and Audi.

There was a time when change in the luxury market came at an almost glacial pace. No longer. Old models are being refreshed at an ever-quicker pace, while all-new products are coming to market so quickly it’s difficult to keep up – and they’re filling “white spaces” you might never have even considered before..

Consider Mercedes-Benz, which recently revealed plans to roll out 30 new or completely updated products by decade’s end, about one per quarter. BMW and Audi aren’t far behind. Now, compare that to Lincoln which has promised to add just four products to its line-up between the end of 2012 and 2016 – five, if you count the minimal revisions coming to the big Navigator SUV.

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No wonder many observers – and upscale buyers – have written off Ford Motor Co.’s luxury brand. Once rivaling Cadillac for dominance, it is today given barely an afterthought. But Lincoln fans shouldn’t abandon all hope, not just yet. After spending a day logging several hundred miles behind the wheel of the new 2015 Lincoln MKC we have to pause and reconsider. If this compact crossover is any indication, there just might be some life left in this long-struggling Detroit brand.

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High Hopes and Global Ambitions for New Lincoln MKC

New crossover could soon become brand's best-seller.

by on Jun.06, 2014

The 2015 Lincoln MKC is one of the lowest-priced models in its rapidly expanding segment.

No, the “C” doesn’t stand for “China,” but it might as well.

Lincoln has a lot riding on the upcoming launch of its new MKC crossover, the latest in a series of all-new models intended to help revive the long-struggling luxury brand. With sales of compact CUVs booming, in fact, the new MKC could soon become Lincoln’s top seller, company officials noted during a media drive in Santa Barbara, California.

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But preliminary orders for the compact crossover are already exceeding initial expectations in China, a market that could be the make-it-or-break-it for Lincoln’s long-term turnaround.

“The (compact CUV) segment remains on fire here, as well as globally,” said Matt Vandyke, the director of Lincoln’s worldwide expansion plans.

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Ford Earnings Fall Nearly 40%

Maker puts blame on aggressive product launch plans.

by on Apr.25, 2014

Ford continued to deliver the bulk of its earnings from North America during the latest quarter.

Ford Motor Co. reported a 39% drop in earnings for the first quarter of 2014, dipping below analysts’ estimates at $989 million, or 24 cents a share.

But the maker downplayed the decline from a year-ago net profit of $1.6 billion, noting the heavy investments required as it prepares to launch 23 new models worldwide this year, its most aggressive product roll-out in half a century.

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Though the decline was slightly worse than expected, it took few by surprise, as Ford had signaled the likelihood 2014’s total would not match the $7.2 billion earned all last year. Nonetheless, the maker handily outdid its cross-town rival General Motors, which saw its own net profit plunge 85.5% for the first quarter, to just $125 million.

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Lincoln Looks East – But Can China Save American Icon?

Luxury maker betting China could become its largest market.

by on Apr.23, 2014

Lincoln is betting it can gain ground in China by focusing on its dealer experience.

It once vied with rival Cadillac for dominance in the huge U.S. luxury car market, but the last two decades have been tough for Lincoln. Sales have steadily slid to the point that some anticipate parent Ford Motor Co. might eventually abandon the once-grand marque.

Lincoln has rolled out several new products over the last two years, and it plans to add at least two more by 2016, but that’s a fraction of what rival Mercedes-Benz has in store – at least one all-new or completely updated product every three months through the end of the decade.

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While Lincoln officials acknowledge they can’t keep up with that product blitz, they’re far from ready to admit defeat. But while they continue to struggle to find ways to lure more American buyers back to the brand, they’re looking East, towards China, to gain some much needed momentum.

“It’s strategically important for us to go to China,” said Matt Vandyke, Lincoln’s global director, a few days before the Ford luxury brand made its official debut at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show.

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Mulally to Retire, Fields Named New Ford CEO

New Chief Executive to face numerous challenges.

by on Apr.21, 2014

Mark Fields, who reportedly will become Ford CEO at the end of the year, shown delivering the keynote address at the NY Auto Show last week.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally will step down at the end of the year, according to a variety of news reports and company sources, with the maker’s current Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields to step in as his successor.

The move – which Ford declined to comment upon – is no surprise to those familiar with the automaker’s plans which were largely laid out in late 2012 when the 52-year-old Fields was appointed to the COO position, a senior company insider at the time saying the top spot was “Mark’s to lose.”

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“This is no surprise whatsoever,” said George Peterson, a former Ford analyst and now head of the consulting firm, AutoPacific, Inc. “Ford has been pretty straightforward about doing what they said they would do.”

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Lincoln Reveals New MKX Concept in Beijing

Part of major rollout plan for Chinese market.

by on Apr.20, 2014

The new Lincoln MKX Concept.

While still struggling to turn things around in the home U.S. market, Lincoln is looking to China to help revive its sagging fortunes. And this week’s Beijing Auto Show will be a critical step in the hoped-for turnaround process.

To support its formal launch in China, Ford Motor Co.’s luxury division is unveiling a new show car in Beijing, the Lincoln MKX Concept. And the prototype is but certain to reappear in production form in the near future.

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“It’s a strong indication of the next-generation MKX,” David Woodhouse, the new Lincoln Design Director, said during a background briefing prior to the show car’s unveiling. He described the show car as, “a much more emotional design” than the fairly boxy and conventional midsize crossover it will ultimately replace.

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