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Ford Puts Mustang Production on Hold – But Move Could Hurt Continental Launch

New luxury sedan also faces first recall.

by on Oct.11, 2016

Mustangs won't roll down the Flat Rock, Michigan, plant line for a while as Ford looks to reduce bloated inventory levels.

Two years after launching an all-new, 50th anniversary Mustang, Ford Motor Co. is putting production of the pony car on temporary hold as sales slide and inventories mount.

Mustang sales have fallen sharply this year, and tumbled 32% in September compared to year-ago levels. Competition has been one of the key factors, demand for the Ford muscle car hurt by the launch of an even newer Chevrolet Camaro. But both models – as well as the rival Dodge Challenger – have been feeling the impact of shifting market trends from passenger cars to SUVs and other light trucks.

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While the week-long closure of the Flat Rock, Michigan, plant will help bring bloated Mustang inventories in line, analyst David Sullivan said the move will have an “unfortunate” side effect, halting the slow ramp-up of production of the new Lincoln Continental, the new flagship of Ford’s luxury brand. (more…)

Lincoln Lures Leibovitz to Launch Continental Campaign

Famous photog kicks off "That's Continental."

by on Oct.10, 2016

Celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz took a series of photographs involving the new Continental for its new ad campaign.

Looks like Lincoln spokesman Matthew McConaughey has some famous company when it comes to promoting Ford’s luxury brand: Acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Leibovitz who’s known for her iconic celebrity and fashion photographs for magazines like Vanity Fair, is now entering the automotive arena to kick off the ad campaign for the 2017 Lincoln Continental.

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The new ads come with the tagline “That’s Continental” and are based around a road trip theme with cinematic-style photos. The shots are inspired by childhood road trips that Leibovitz took with her father. (more…)

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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.


Lincoln Hopes to Get Back on Track with Navigator Makeover

Production model a year away.

by on Mar.23, 2016

The Lincoln Navigator Concept makes its splashy debut at the 2016 NY Auto Show.

When it first rolled into showrooms in 1997, luxury car buyers had never seen anything like it. That first Lincoln Navigator was big and brash and decidedly American. It was an instant hit — in the process spawning an assortment of imitations. And somehow, the full-size luxury SUV ran off track.

All but set to abandon the nameplate entirely, Ford Motor Co.’s luxury division launched a less than compelling update two years ago – and more than a decade after the last full Navigator makeover. But Lincoln may finally be ready to get it right, at least if the concept version of the luxury SUV debuting at this week’s New York International Auto Show is any indication.

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The Lincoln Navigator Concept is even more over-the-top than the original luxury ute, with twin gull-wing doors and three-step fold-out running boards. But while a number of the show car’s features won’t get beyond the show car stage, Lincoln officials acknowledge, the Navigator Concept suggests there’ll be a lot to like about the production version coming sometime next year.


Lincoln’s Newest Ads Gone to the Dogs

McConaughey discusses dinner plans while piloting Navigator.

by on Feb.16, 2016

Matthew McConaughey makes dinner plans with a couple of dogs while driving the new Lincoln Navigator in his latest television ad.

Matthew McConaughey is dogged in his determination to get people to buy new Lincolns. The brand unleashed its latest ad featuring the actor and his Texas drawl behind the wheel of a 2016 Navigator making dinner plans with two dogs.

The 30-second spot, which was unveiled during the Grammy telecast, is clearly a departure from the previous ads for the MKX, MKZ and MKC.

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“Lincoln and I wanted the new ad to be more lighthearted and fun, so when they pitched the “driving with dogs” idea I was in,” McConaughey said in a statement. “People love their dogs, I’ve got three myself, and yes, I, like most of you, even talk to them.” (more…)

Lincoln Looks for Credibility with Debut of Continental

New sedan brings back a classic name – but will luxury buyers care?

by on Jan.12, 2016

Lincoln is hoping the new Continental will draw in a new type of buyer and rebuild the brand. Photo by Len Katz.

(This story has been updated with new photos, powertrain details and comments from Ford CEO Mark Fields.)

Once one of the market’s most successful luxury brands, Lincoln has become little more than an afterthought for most high-line buyers these days – if they think about the domestic brand at all.

But the Ford subsidiary generated a flurry of interest last April when it staged the surprise debut of the Lincoln Continental concept vehicle at the New York Auto Show. Now, barely nine months later, the big sedan is back, this time in production trim, making its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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“The Continental name has long been associated with the ultimate in Lincoln beauty and luxury,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln. “With the all-new model, we are focusing on creating more human, personally tailored experiences for our clients – providing what we call quiet luxury.” (more…)

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.


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.