In a nutshell, the problem with Lincoln is that on the Taurus SHO launch, Ford brought along an Audi A6 4.2 for comparison's sake. Says one Lincoln dealer, "It's hard to sell a $48,000 MKS when the Ford guy down the street has a Taurus with the same features for $10,000 less." Put another way, despite the polarizing new sheetmetal, it's still obvious to consumers that the MKZ is a Fusion, the MKS is a Taurus, the MKX is an Edge and the MKT is the Flex.
"I have more dedicated Lincoln-Mercury employees than Ford Motor Co. does. They don't have any executives who wake up every day thinking about these brands." Says Lincoln/Mercury dealer owner Chris Lemley to The Detroit News in what might just be the "ouch!" comment of the year.
Part of the problem is without question the not-so-great state of the economy, with luxury sales tanking by nearly 25 percent in 2009. Still, with Lincolns priced lower than the competition, one might think they'd be selling better. For instance, the Lincoln MKT (priced at $49,995 with all the fixins) matches up quite well with the much more expensive Audi Q7 ($61,825). However, "If people were cross-shopping Audi and Lincoln, that would be great," said one analyst. "Audi buyers are shopping for a style statement. They're not even looking at Lincoln. Lincoln still has not gotten back up to first-tier luxury." Hence all that dealer fury.