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Forget Leather and Wood; Automakers Struggling to Redefine Luxury

Focus shifts to the “total customer experience.”

by on Jul.21, 2016

Lincoln will increase its suite of customers services with the launch of the new Continental.

Leather, wood, a big engine and lots of chrome. Those have been the traditional signatures of a luxury car. But what happens when you can add those same features to an entry-level sedan? That’s a question high-line brands have been struggling to deal with as they face increasing competition from more mainstream manufacturers.

That new reality is forcing luxury marques to shift focus a bit. You’ll still find massaging leather seats on a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, open-pore wood on a BMW 7-Series, and a choice of high-performance engines for your next Audi. But you’re likely also to find a variety of new features and services designed, among other things, to simplify and speed up the car buying and service processes.

What a Luxury!

“Because so many things that used to be considered luxury are now available across the line, the only way to differentiate yourself as a luxury manufacturer is to make the total ownership experience painless and seamless,” said Joe Phillippi, senior analyst with AutoTrends Consulting.


All New Lincolns to Get Standard Pickup and Delivery

New service to debut with launch of 2017 Lincoln Continental.

by on Jun.29, 2016

Lincoln will launch the new program with the Continental, then add it to other models.

Ford’s Lincoln brand has been looking for a mix of products and services that can help it to stand out in a crowded field of luxury competitors, and the latest move will make it the first automaker to offer standard pickup and delivery service on all of its 2017 models, from the little MKC crossover to the new Continental sedan coming later this year.

A handful of automakers have added free pickup and delivery for vehicles going in for service, but that’s often done at the local dealer’s discretion, or may only apply to specific models – usually at the upper end of a manufacturer’s price spectrum.

What a Luxury!

“Lincoln Pickup and Delivery service revolves around complementing our luxury vehicles with outstanding luxury experiences,” said Andrew Frick, Lincoln North American director of sales and service. “This kind of Quiet Luxury provides an exclusive and personally crafted service experience that enhances their lifestyle and saves them what is a true luxury item — their time.”


New Lincoln Continental to Start at $45,485

But fully loaded, the MSRP nudges up and over $80,000.

by on Apr.14, 2016

Lincoln opted for a version of ever-popular white to debut the production Lincoln Continental.

Set to finally roll into showrooms a little later this year, Lincoln will offer the new Continental sedan at a starting price of $45,485 – including delivery fees — undercutting most of its key rivals by as much as $10,000.

First unveiled in concept form at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, the 2017 Lincoln Continental will mark the return of one of the most storied nameplates in the brand’s history. It is also set to become one of the most important offerings in the long-struggling Lincoln’s ongoing turnaround efforts.

Priced Right: It's Free!

Rather than targeting top-line models like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-Series, however, Lincoln is targeting the slightly lower, if still exclusive, mid-premium range that includes the E-Class and 5-Series, as well as the Lexus GS and Audi A6.


The “Face” and the “Flop” – Picking the Right Paint Colors for Tomorrow’s Cars Can Be a Big Challenge

Two-tone pastels, “secure” blacks and blues, high-tech golds among the likely trends of 2019.

by on Jan.20, 2016

Buick opted for a paint so dark you might think it was black, not blue, depending on lighting.

Low-slung and sensually sculpted, the Buick Avista is generating rave reviews, and large crowds, at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.

When designers pulled the concept car together, they spent nearly as much time coming up with the right, dark blue paint color as they did on Avista’s sheet metal. And the Buick team wasn’t alone. Whether ticket-me-red, sunburst orange or elegant white, color is critical to designers hoping to make their production cars and concepts pop on the auto show floor – and in the showroom.

We Color Outside the Lines!

“When you buy a car, your friends are likely to ask, ‘What did you buy – and what color is it?’” suggests Jane Harrington, the manager of color styling for PPG Automotive Coatings.


Spy Shots: 2017 Lincoln MKZ

Modest update to midsize sedan.

by on Oct.19, 2015

The midcycle update will give MKZ the basic new grille seen on the Lincoln Continental concept. Photos: Jim Dunne, CarSpy, unless otherwise noted.

With the unexpected debut of the Lincoln Continental concept at the New York Auto Show last April, Ford’s long-struggling luxury brand appeared to be setting out on a new course intended to make the brand a more serious player in the upscale market.

Even as engineers push the Lincoln Continental towards production, they’re also working up a mid-cycle update of the mid-range Lincoln MKZ– along with its sibling sedan, the Ford MKZ. These spy shots suggest that the bulk of the exterior changes will be seen front and back.

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The Lincoln Continental concept introduced an all-new face for the brand, abandoning the split-wing grille first introduced on the current MKZ. And we can expect that under the camouflage, we’ll be seeing the midsize model sharing that new look.


Ford Will Build New Lincoln Continental Alongside Mustang, Fusion

Flagship sedan set to debut in 2016.

by on Jul.16, 2015

Ford CEO Mark Fields with the Lincoln Continental Concept during its NY Auto Show debut.

Ford Motor Co. has revealed plans to produce its new luxury flagship, the Lincoln Continental, at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant where it will roll down the line alongside the Ford Mustang and Fusion models.

The Continental will be the most significant effort in years by Ford to revive the fortunes of its long-struggling Lincoln brand. Ostensibly a replacement for the outgoing MKS sedan, it will move Lincoln up-market, in line with rival Cadillac’s new CT6 flagship sedan.

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The Flat Rock plant is one of the maker’s most important U.S. assembly plants, and also one of its most flexible, capable of producing both front-wheel-drive models like the Fusion, as well as the rear-drive Mustang. Lincoln has not yet disclosed specific details about the Continental drivetrain but it is expected to offer an all-wheel-drive version, in keeping with trends in the premium luxury market.


Lincoln Continental May Push Brand to Give up MK Names

Response to MKS replacement has officials reconsidering monikers.

by on Apr.22, 2015

The Lincoln Continental will return in production form and may be ushering in a return to conventional names for the brand's other vehicles.

When Lincoln rolled out the new Continental recently it not only suggested that Ford was serious about investing in the brand, but also the fact that they called it “Continental” suggested that the luxury brand may be reconsidering its MK nomenclature.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas, threw gasoline on the fire of speculation when he told a crowd that the company was happy with the response it got to the name.

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“Without divulging the future,” Hinrichs said, according to Automotive News, “we’re very excited about the Continental name and the attention it’s gotten.” (more…)

10 Hottest Debuts at the 2015 NY Auto Show

Compacts and full-size luxury; hybrids and high-performance supercars.

by on Apr.06, 2015

The Cadillac CT6 makes its NY debut.

The turnstiles are now open at New York’s Jacob Javits convention center, spinning rapidly as the crowds rush in to check out all the new sheet metal on display at the annual NY International Auto Show. team was on hand for all the unveilings at last week’s media preview, a two-day extravaganza that saw more than two dozen different unveilings. Some of the new models played it safe, others are simply forgettable. But there also were plenty of surprises and significant debuts.

Best of the Best!

Here’s our list of the Top 10 Debuts at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. Click on the product names for more complete coverage.

Caddy, Lincoln Big Apple Debuts Also Target China

Chinese buyers will be critical for success of CT6, Continental sedans.

by on Apr.02, 2015

Ford CEO Mark Fields said the Continental plays a "critical" role in the revival of the Lincoln brand, including driving sales in China.

Hoping to regain their once-lofty positions in the hierarchy of global luxury brands, Cadillac and Lincoln launched two critical new products at the New York International Auto Show this week. But while the new Cadillac CT6 and Lincoln Continental might be on display in the Big Apple, the two makers are also hoping that Chinese buyers pay close attention.

That’s because China is expected to become the world’s largest luxury car market within the next year or so – and it already leads the world in the purchase of premium luxury models, such as the big CT6 and Continental, noted Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields.

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China, Fields noted, is a “critical” piece in Ford’s planned revival of the long-neglected Lincoln brand. And Johan de Nysschen, the new global president of General Motors’ Cadillac division has similar expectations. (more…)

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.

Auto Show News!

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.