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Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln MKZ’

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 TheDetroitBureau.com, with production now on a fast increase that should soon see plenty of 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedans in dealer showrooms.

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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 DetroitBureau.com 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.

Lincoln Launches into Compact Luxury CUV Segment with New MKC

Detroit maker hopes to get ahead of the curve in rapidly growing segment.

by on Jan.13, 2013

A concept for now, but expect to see the Lincoln MKC compact luxury crossover return in production form.

Once one of the leaders of the U.S. luxury market, Lincoln has been little more than an afterthought in recent years — but the Ford brand is hoping to regain its former glory with an aggressive product program and, with this week’s introduction of the new MKC, it is looking to get ahead of the curve, rather than lag behind.

While the compact crossover making its debut at the North American International Auto Show is officially described as a concept fans of the Lincoln MKC prototype won’t have to wait long to see a production version enter the line-up, one of four new models the maker has promised to introduce by 2014 – with an array of additional offerings to follow in the years beyond.

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The Lincoln MKC targets one of the market’s fastest-growing segments. Sales of compact crossovers have grown 200% over the past five years in the U.S. market, and 60% in just 2012, noted Matt VanDyke, Lincoln’s new marketing chief.  And where they account for about 11% of the overall American market they’ve surged to 25% of the luxury segment.

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Cadillac, Lincoln Stuck in Neutral

Domestic luxury brands gain little traction in 2012.

by on Jan.04, 2013

Cadillac is hoping to see the ATS win North American Car of the Year honors, which could put its sales push back into gear.

The long-promised revival of Detroit’s two main luxury brands failed to materialize in 2012 despite the launch of some major new products that generated largely positive reviews.

Both Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln and General Motors’ Cadillac wound up losing market share last year – 4.1% and 1.7% respectively — despite the makers’ anticipated improvements . Only the near-luxury GM brand Buick posted a modest, 1.6% gain for the year, though company officials insist the real test will come in 2013.

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That’s quite likely the case, says David Sullivan, of AutoPacific, Inc. “Looking back at 2012, I would say they were semi-disappointing and if we didn’t know there was promising new product in the pipeline it would be pretty bleak.”

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Lincoln Asks Public to Help Write its 1st-Ever Super Bowl Ad

Comedian Jimmy Fallon will reach out to “Twitter-sphere."

by on Dec.04, 2012

Late Night host Jimmy Fallon will Tweet for Lincoln - and then help write its 1st-ever Super Bowl ad.

As it prepares to launch its first-ever ad on the much-watched Super Bowl, Lincoln will turn to comedian Jimmy Fallon and the “Twitter-sphere” for help, according to the Ford Motor Co. subsidiary’s new marketing chief.

On Wednesday, Fallon will send out a 140-character blurb asking his fans for their ideas on what Lincoln should say during its debut commercial. The automaker plans to pull together some of the best ideas and turn them into a cohesive spot that it hopes will garner enough attention to stand out during a broadcast event watched as much for its advertising as for the game itself.

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“We’re open to new things,” said Matt VanDyke, global director of marketing, sales and service for the long-struggling luxury brand, during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com.

Indeed, there are a lot of new things happening at the Ford subsidiary.

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