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Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln MKZ’

MKZ Redux for Lincoln

Detroit luxury brand refines and redefines its midsize sedan.

by on Nov.18, 2015

The updated Lincoln MKZ borrows the distinctive new grille introduced on the Continental Concept.

The launch of the MKZ sedan three years ago was a critical move for Lincoln as it set out to reestablish itself as a credible player in the luxury market. The new model was more stylish, more sophisticated, but still fell short of meeting key competitors head-on.

This time, Lincoln isn’t holding back. Taking a number of its design cues from the widely praised Lincoln Continental concept, the upcoming, mid-cycle refresh of the MKZ takes the sedan even more up-market, with an attention to detail normally reserved for import brands like Lexus, Audi or Mercedes-Benz.

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“We’re closing the gap very, very rapidly,” said Kumar Galhotra, the president of Lincoln Motors, during a sneak preview of the 2017 Lincoln MKZ ahead of its official unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show.


Lincoln Counting on New Black Label to Draw New Buyers

Exclusive interiors, upscale “experience” targeting elite motorists.

by on Nov.17, 2014

Lincoln's new Black Label Series kicks off with the MKC as well as the MKZ for 2015.

Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand is trying a new approach to attract the sort of upscale opinion leaders that can help put the struggling luxury marque back on track.

The new Lincoln Black Label “experience” is designed to offer potential buyers a blend of exclusive vehicle interiors and a more personalized ownership experience that will include access to exclusive restaurants, unlimited car washes and an annual vehicle detailing.

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The launch of the brand-within-a-brand comes as Lincoln makes its first serious push to go global, with the first of its new dealerships opening in China this month. Black Label will debut in the U.S. on two of Lincoln’s newest models, the MKC compact crossover and the MKZ sedan, noted Group Marketing Manager Andrew Frick, adding that “Black Label will be (added) on every new Lincoln that comes out over the next few years.” (more…)

Lincoln Getting $5 Billion Infusion to Resurrect Brand

CEO Fields staunchly supporting brand’s renaissance.

by on Oct.28, 2014

Lincoln is hoping a new series of ads featuring actor Matthew McConaughey will raise the company's profile and boost sales.

Ford’s leaders are doubling down on their investment in the Lincoln brand in hopes of coming up with a winning hand as other luxury brands, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even Cadillac, have stronger followings than long-suffering Lincoln.

However, it has been difficult to know what that meant, in terms of dollars, until now. In September, Ford executives suggested the plan called for a $2.5 billion cash infusion into the brand; however, Ford CFO Bob Shanks said last week that the figure was low because it excludes engineering and some sales-related expenses.

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Some experts put the number closer to $5 billion. (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.


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.


High-Tech Suspensions Smooth Out The Bumps

New systems improve ride and handling of luxury vehicles.

by on Jun.06, 2013

Mercedes improved the ride and handling on the S-Class for 2014 using a new system called Magic Body Control.

With more and more states and local communities struggling to balance their budgets, road repairs are among the first things to be cut. In places like Detroit, where winter is particularly tough on tarmac, that can translate into potholes that match the worst you’ll find in a third-world country.

But automakers and their suppliers are rolling out some high-tech solutions that can make all but the worst bumps and ruts virtually vanish.

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Electronically controlled suspensions have been around for several decades, but early systems did little more than firm up a vehicle’s shock absorbers and they usually seemed to either be too firm or too soft.


MKZ Back on Track – But Lincoln Still Has Problems

New sedan gains momentum – even as the rest of the line-up slips.

by on May.31, 2013

Jim Farley, Lincoln's brand boss and the global marketing chief for parent Ford Motor Co.

It’s the classic good news/bad news situation for Lincoln this month.

On the positive side, after a painfully slow start due to production snags, the luxury marque’s new MKZ is finally gaining momentum and should set a record for the nameplate when May’s final numbers are tallied. The bad news?  As Lincoln gains ground, the rest of the luxury brand’s line-up has been slipping.

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“We’ll have the best month ever with the MKZ,” predicted Jim Farley, head of the Lincoln brand and the global marketing chief for its parent Ford Motor Co.


Lincoln: Code Blue

Is there a doctor in the house? Enter Mark LaNeve.

by on Apr.11, 2013

Lincoln's marketing mishaps - and production delays -- have left the brand in even worse shape than skeptics had anticipated.

The reintroduction of the Lincoln Motor Company via the new MKZ model is now officially comatose. A code blue alert has brought in an auto marketing turnaround specialist, the 54-year-old Mark LeNeve, to assume command of Lincoln’s almost new “luxury-oriented boutique agency” and continue as COO of Team Detroit, the Ford brand’s ad agency.

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The former Academic All-American linebacker at the University of Virginia is faced with a helluva marketing mess. The factory quality issues contributing to this situation are not unique to the introduction of a new model but the marketing blunders, gaffes, mistakes and eff-ups are unprecedented.  Unless one has a memory long enough to reach back to the legendary Edsel debacle.


Lincoln Claims MKZ Production Finally Up to Normal

Supply crisis short-circuited critical sedan’s launch.

by on Mar.25, 2013

The new Lincoln MKZ should reach normal levels of inventory in the coming weeks.

It was billed as the most important product new product roll-out in decades for Lincoln, the 2013 MKZ expected to anchor a wave of new products designed to put the long-suffering domestic luxury brand back on the map.

But things didn’t go right almost for the start for the new sedan, parent Ford Motor Co. putting the brakes on production in a bid to head off troubling signs of potential quality problems. The result was a crash-and-burn that instead of kick-starting Lincoln sales saw them fall to a 32-year low.

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But the maker finally appears to be back on track, a senior official has advised, with production now on a fast increase that should soon see plenty of 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedans in dealer showrooms.


Cadillac Soars, Lincoln Sags

January sales tell two very different tales.

by on Feb.04, 2013

A Cadillac ATS shown during filming of the sports sedan's debut ad campaign.

It was, to mangle Charles Dickens, the best of times and the worst of times for the two domestic luxury makers last month.

For Cadillac, January brought a sign of vindication suggesting that, after a slow start for the 2013 model-year, critical new products like the compact ATS sedan are finally building the sales momentum needed to help restore General Motors’ flagship brand to its former luster.

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For Lincoln, however, January delivered an unexpected setback, sales plunging by 73%, year-over-year, despite parent Ford Motor Co.’s strong aspirations for the luxury brand’s new MKZ sedan.

While Lincoln’s numbers plunged 18%, to their lowest level since the Reagan era, Cadillac posted its best performance at the retail level in 23 years, demand overall surging by 47%.

The new Lincoln MKZ reached showrooms late in 2012 and production has only slowly been ramping up.

“When you look inside the numbers, we’re even more encouraged to see our products building momentum, drawing new luxury consumers and expanding our brand,” said Chase Hawkins, vice president of sales for Cadillac.

The executive pointed to two key products for building brand momentum, the SRX crossover-utility vehicle and the new ATS sedan. Roughly the size of a BMW 3-Series, Caddy’s new 4-door has been winning wide praise since its launch last year, most notably being named last month the North American Car of the Year by a panel of 49 U.S. and Canadian journalists.

To industry analysts, one of the most significant measures of Cadillac’s rebound is the fact that it is rapidly gaining converts in the retail market, rather than by pumping cars into fleets, as it had done in the past. A full 94% of the brand’s sales were racked up at retail showrooms last month.

Of course, January alone won’t guarantee that Cadillac – which long billed itself the “standard of the world” – has truly recovered.  The maker has, in fact, been promoting its “renaissance” for more than a decade, ever since it introduced the dramatic “Art & Science” design language with the launch of its original CTS sedan.

But after some early signs of success, the promised revival faltered as consumers turned their backs on other edgy designs, such as the bigger STS sedan and the XLR sports car.

The arrival of the ATS and the XTS, the latter also new for 2013, appear to be putting the brand back on track, but analysts caution Cadillac will need to continue building momentum month after month.

And it will face another big test when it reveals the third-generation CTS sedan later this year. The first versions were so-called “tweener” cars, according to analyst Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics, in Detroit, falling somewhere between the BMW 3-Series and 5-Series models.  With the ATS directly taking aim at the smaller of the Bavarian models, the 2014 CTS will move up in size – and price.

Cadillac has even more ambitious product plans in the works, including a replacement for the massive Escalade sport-utility vehicle. And it has hinted at product development programs underway that could result in a variety of other much-needed offerings, including a compact crossover, a convertible and other models.

For its part, Lincoln also is looking to broaden its appeal with a newer, more modern design language that will be shared across an expanding line-up of products. It has announced plans to introduce four new models by 2014 while Ford CEO Alan Mulally recently confirmed in a interview that even more vehicles are now under development for the rest of the decade – including Lincoln’s first rear-drive passenger car since the aging Town Car was pulled from production.

The MKZ is the first step in Lincoln’s revitalization. But despite generally positive reviews, and what Lincoln officials had claimed to be record advance orders, January did not deliver a strong launch.

The entire brand’s line-up generated just 4,191 sales – less than the total for the Ford division’s Fiesta – and the lowest monthly tally since July 1981.

Despite that weak performance, company officials put as positive a spin on the results as possible.  A key reason for the slow take-off, they stressed, was not a lack of demand.  If anything, there are more customers waiting in line than for any product in Lincoln history, asserted Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of sales, marketing and service.

But in light of the problems the parent company had with the debut of the Ford Fusion – which shares the same underlying platform with the Lincoln MKZ – it’s perhaps no surprise the maker is putting the luxury sedan through a rigid inspection process that has sharply reduced production rates.

“We are going over them as we have never gone over vehicles before,” said Czubay, during a conference call discussing Ford’s January sales. “As we re-launched Lincoln … we know the quality finish of all of our competitors,” and wanted to ensure Lincoln would match the best it will face off against.

Despite the short supply, Lincoln went ahead with plans to advertise the new model – and to emphasize the brand’s transformation – on the Super Bowl, perhaps the highest-profile venue an automaker can participate in all year.

Lincoln took some flak when it previewed its Super Bowl campaign on Youtube, Mark Simon, the chief creative officer at Detroit’s Campbell Ewald – an ad agency that, until recently had long represented Chevrolet – offered a put-down on Twitter. The spot, chided Simon, “doesn’t change my opinion about the brand.”

Whether potential luxury buyers will agree remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Lincoln, like its cross-town rival, Cadillac, will have to change plenty of minds as it struggles to regain its former glory. And that will be all the more difficult considering the solid gains by rivals ranging from Porsche – which set a new sales record in January – to Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Both U.S. luxury marques have slipped well behind the imports and face the fight of their corporate lives to win back buyers. Ford Cadillac, January showed signs that this just might be possible. For Lincoln, the New Year is off to a worrisome start.