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Lincoln Adds Sizzle with New Pitchman: Matthew McConaughey

Texan gets multi-year deal to extol virtues of luxury brand.

by on Aug.21, 2014

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

That easy-going twang Americans have heard telling us that beef is what’s for dinner is now hitting the road with Lincoln. Actor Matthew McConaughey inked a multi-year deal to lead a new ad campaign for the struggling luxury brand.

The Texas-born actor known for his good looks and physique leads a new style of advertising for Ford’s luxury unit that focuses on his folksy storytelling style about Lincoln’s attributes. The first set of ads features the new 2015 Lincoln MKC small crossover.

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“Authenticity is a word that kept coming up in our initial meetings. It was clear from the start they appreciated me as an individual first and foremost, and I would be able to be myself in this collaboration,” said McConaughey in a statement. (more…)

Buttons, Dials and Paddles – This Isn’t Your Father’s Old Transmission

New tech improves performance, mileage, user operation.

by on Aug.11, 2014

The new Lincoln MKC opts for a pushbutton transmission rather than a conventional shift lever.

Button, button, who’s got the button?

Slip inside Lincoln’s new MKC and you may be in for a surprise when you fire it up and reach to put the 2015 crossover into gear. That’s because the traditional shift lever is gone, replaced by a set of buttons on the instrument panel.

The new Chrysler 200 sedan, as well as the maker’s big Ram 1500 pickup, adopts a rotary dial to shift gears. Jaguar uses a similar system on its XF sedan, though here the knob rises out of the center console when the driver presses the start button while an indicator light pulses like a heartbeat.

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A growing number of new models, from the new Mini Hardtop to the Porsche Panamera Turbo, have adopted paddle shifters akin to what you’ll find in a Formula One race car, meanwhile. Mercedes-Benz and BMW, meanwhile, have downsized the steering wheel-mounted shift levers, while Maserati and Alfa Romeo’s center console shifters are little bigger than the joysticks you’ll find on videogame controllers.

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Ford’s Fields Makes Mark with New Appointments

CEO replaces Farley as head of Lincoln.

by on Jul.22, 2014

Kumar Galhotra is succeeding Jim Farley as President of Lincoln. Farley remains in charge of Ford's global marketing efforts.

Less than a month after taking over as Ford Motor Co.’s CEO, Mark Fields is making his first tweak to the company’s leadership team by replacing Jim Farley as the head of Lincoln with Kumar Galhotra, who had been vice president of engineering. The pair will report to Fields and the change is effective Sept. 1.

Farley, who came to Ford from Toyota with a reputation as a brilliant marketer and will remain in charge of global marketing, was charged with creating a new approach to customers for the company’s struggling luxury unit.

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However, as Lincoln rebuilds and expands it’s only natural that the brand has a dedicated leader, Ford officials said. (more…)

Lincoln Lands Top Spot in Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

Much-needed victory for struggling luxury brand.

by on Jun.16, 2014

The MKZ led its segment, as did two other Lincoln models - while Lincoln was top-rated brand overall.

Pushing past such rivals as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac, Ford Motor Co.’s struggling luxury brand Lincoln was named the highest-ranked brand in the annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards by AutoPacific, Inc.

The announcement comes as Lincoln prepares to move ahead with a product roll-out plan designed to put itself back on the radar screen of luxury buyers who have largely written the brand off in recent years.  Lincoln products, such as the MKZ sedan, also topped their individual segments in the annual VSA study which is based on responses by more than 92,000 people who purchased 2014-model cars, trucks and crossovers.

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General Motors’ GMC truck brand, meanwhile, was named the most satisfying mainstream brand. In fact, Detroit makers took 12 of 23 individual product categories, though imports still led in such key segments as midsize passenger cars, premium luxury models and minivans.

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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.

Cross Over!

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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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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Lincoln Breathes New Life into Aging Navigator

Full-size luxury ute gets first significant update in half a decade.

by on Jan.23, 2014

The update to the 2015 Lincoln Navigator marks the biggest makeover since 2009 to the full-size ute.

This story has been updated to note the price increase of the Lincoln Navigator’s most direct competitor, the Cadillac Escalade

It helped launch an entirely new market segment and introduced the concept of “bling” to the auto industry, but in recent years, the once-prized Lincoln Navigator has become little more than an after-thought in the luxury car market.

Now, as it sets out to rebuild its struggling Lincoln brand, parent Ford Motor Co. aims to breathe new life into the big Navigator with the most significant update to the full-size luxury sport-utility vehicle in five years.  But a sneak peek at the 2015 Navigator raises questions about whether the planned changes go far enough at a time when the big Lincoln’s most direct competitor, the Cadillac Escalade, is getting a far more extensive makeover.

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The Navigator originally debuted 17 years ago and “helped define the full-size luxury segment,” proclaimed Andrew Frick, Lincoln’s marketing manager, during a media background session on the 2015 SUV – which will be formally unveiled at the Chicago Motor Show next month. The update, he added, “will bolster” a product that had lost a significant amount of ground in recent years as it grew old and faced more competition from players as diverse as Caddy’s Escalade, the Infiniti QX80, the Mercedes-Benz GL and Lexus LX570.

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