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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.


Ford Moves Up-Market With New Vignale

Free car washes for life?

by on Sep.12, 2013

Ford's new Mondeo Vignale makes its Frankfurt debut.

With the European market showing tenuous signs of revival after plunging into its worst downturn in decades, Ford Motor Co. is prepping a major product offensive that includes a push into more up-market segments it abandoned with the sell-off of its former Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo brands.

Ford is leaving room for the eventual European launch of its North American luxury brand Lincoln, until then the maker is betting its new Vignale brand-within-a-brand can attract the sort of demanding buyers who might otherwise migrate to other high-line marques – and that it can deliver better sales while earning higher margins, in the process.

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While Vignale is still a work in progress, Ford pulled the wraps off the first model to carry the new name during this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The Ford Mondeo Vignale is a fancier version of the maker’s midsize model line – which is sold in the U.S. as the Ford Fusion – and slots above the current Mondeo Titanium model. (more…)

Lincoln Launches New Black Label Collection

“Higher level expression” debuts at Pebble Beach Concours.

by on Aug.15, 2013

Lincoln introduced two Black Label models, like the MKZ, at an event at Pebble Beach, Calif.

This story has been updated with new information.

Aiming to rebuild its credibility in the hotly competitive luxury car market, Lincoln is pulling the wraps off a new line of limited-edition products it has dubbed the Black Label Collection.

Black Label models will feature “ultra-premium” exterior and interior design “themes” specifically crafted for individual models like the Lincoln MKZ and the upcoming MKC compact crossover. But all Lincoln models eventually be offered with at least several of these customized packages.

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They will be paired with special services and support, meanwhile, including what Lincoln boss Jim Farley dubbed a “traveling trunk show,” with salespeople calling on potential buyers “at their home or office or favorite restaurant,” rather than requiring customers to come to showrooms. (more…)

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.


U.S. Auto Sales Increase In May

Large trucks, utilities pushing monthly sales jump.

by on Jun.03, 2013

Ford posted a 14% sales increase in May with trucks leading the way.

Bolstered by strong sales of pickup trucks and luxury cars, sales of new vehicles rose again in May as carmakers continued to help keep the U.S. economy growing despite the continuing concerns about deficits and job creation.

The three domestic carmakers, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group, all posted sales increases for May.

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Ford led the way as its sales increased 14% in May, with cars up 9%, utilities up 15% and trucks up 18%. Retail sales increased 17%, marking the best May retail sales results since 2005.


Lincoln Readying Potentially Major Re-launch of MKZ

Production finally approaching “launch levels.”

by on Apr.02, 2013

The new Lincoln MKZ is now at "launch levels."

With production of the new Lincoln MKZ finally approaching “launch levels” after a costly delay in the production of the critical new luxury sedan, parent Ford Motor Co. is studying just how extensive a re-launch will be needed to put the 2013 model back on the radar for potential buyers.

The Lincoln MKZ was supposed to serve as the foundation for the revitalization of the long-struggling luxury brand. But even as the first of the sedans began rolling into showrooms late last year, Ford decided to curb production, worrying that the MKZ could fall victim to the same snags that resulted in quality problems and recalls for other new 2013 models, such as the Ford Fusion sedan and Escape crossover.

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The problem, admitted marketing chief Jim Farley, is that the carmaker went ahead with a major nationwide marketing campaign, including several costly Super Bowl spots, even without product in the showroom. That left dealers unable to serve potential buyers – some of whom are still waiting while others likely switched to competing brands.


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, 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.”


Forward Into the Past for Newly Renamed Lincoln Motor Co.

Old name for a newly updated brand.

by on Dec.03, 2012

Lincoln launches its name change -- and the new MKZ -- with a new multimedia campaign.

What difference does a name make? No, that’s not the beginning of an essay on Shakespeare, though Ford is hoping a new name for its long-struggling Lincoln brand will make it smell as sweet as a rose.

The Detroit luxury marque is taking a step forward into the past by reviving the name it first had back in 1922, the Lincoln Motor Co.  Ford officials are hoping that the subtle change – which it plans to heavily promote as part of a new multimedia ad campaign – will help signal the broader changes coming at Lincoln, starting with the launch of the new MKZ sedan.

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“Befitting this new chapter in the life of Lincoln we are making a complete new start in every aspect of consumer communication to emotionally welcome our new target customer into our brand,” said Matt VanDyke, Director of Global Lincoln Brand.


Lincoln, Cadillac “Reinventing” Themselves

Will luxury import buyers notice?

by on Nov.08, 2012

The 2013 MKZ with Lincoln design chief Max Woolf.

They were once the benchmarks of the luxury market but today, Detroit’s Cadillac and Lincoln brands struggle in the shadows of better-known imports like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the latter now the world’s largest premium automotive manufacturer.

But the coming months could be critical for the two domestic luxury marques as they both launch critical products that could help redefine their brands – and as they prepare for the critical step of going global.

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For Caddy, the 2013 model-year brings the launch of the big XTS and, arguably more important, the ATS, a compact sedan challenging the likes of the segment-defining BMW 3-Series.

As for its cross-town rival, Ford Motor Company’s luxury division is set to launch the first of four major new products, the MKZ, which Rich Kreder, the program’s Vehicle Integration Manager, calls, “The first really important step in redefining Lincoln.”