A clay model at the new Lincoln Design Studio.
Ford Motor Co. has opened a dedicated Lincoln Design Center in Dearborn, Michigan, part of its effort to put the long-struggling brand back on track as a true competitor to marques like BMW, Lexus – and even the resurgent cross-town competitor Cadillac.
The new design center and studio will house approximately 150 designers, craftspeople and engineers dedicated solely to Lincoln production and concept vehicles, Ford said. It also marks the first time in 40 years that all the disciplines required to develop a new vehicle for Ford’s up-market brand, both creative and technical, will work collaboratively in one space.
Setting up the new design center is all part of Ford’s efforts to reinvent the Lincoln brand, executives said. Once a serious competitor to Cadillac as dominant players in the U.S. market, Lincoln has become a weak second-tier nameplate – and one with virtually no presence outside North America.
The Last Word!
Ford hopes to change that situation by rolling out more stylized, technically sophisticated products – including an all-new version of the Lincoln MKZ coming for 2013. It has an assortment of additional models under development but industry observers warn that Lincoln now has to prove it has a unique identity and isn’t just a marketing operation for slightly more up-market versions of vehicles sold by the mainstream Ford “Blue Oval” brand.
A 2013 Lincoln MKZ shown with the brand's design director Max Wolff.