• Jun 11, 2012
To claim the fate of the U.S. auto industry rests on the success or failure of Lincoln is about as bold a statement as one can make, but that's how far NPR program Planet Money goes in its latest episode (scroll down to listen). The gist of host Alex Blumberg and contributor Sonari Glinton's argument is that a successful luxury brand brings in more profit per unit sold, creates domestic manufacturing jobs and generates innovative technology that eventually trickles down an automaker's entire lineup. All those things contribute to the overall health of an automaker, and if Lincoln (and Cadillac for that matter) were successful competing against the world's top luxury brands, then Ford – and by extension the U.S. auto industry – would be in much better shape.

To make this point, the two hosts draw an analogy between Lincoln and Audi, the latter of which has risen on a wave of methodically executed success for over a decade to become a global leader in automotive luxury with the youngest clientele in the business. To achieve this success, Glinton argues that Audi followed the following three-step plan.

Step 1: Become known.
Step 2: Totally separate yourself from the parent company.
Step 3: Make a really cool car.

There's no argument that Audi has done these things and that they've contributed to the brand's success, but Glint goes on to explain how Lincoln is trying to walk the same path to similar success. To become better known, it will soon launch a new marketing campaign to replace the one starring Roger Sterling from Mad Men. To separate itself from Ford, Lincoln has created its own design center a few miles down the road. And as for the really cool car, that would be the new MKZ. From listening to the episode, one doesn't get the sense that even Blumberg or Glint believes Lincoln will achieve what Audi has for parent company Volkswagen, but they seem to put a lot at stake if it doesn't.

And that's where we differ with Planet Money. While there are countless positives that would result from Lincoln becoming a world-class luxury carmaker, Ford has survived and even thrived in recent years despite not being able to improve the marque's fortunes with consumers. Even if this latest attempt doesn't get Lincoln a mention in Jay-Z's next single (acknowledgment by the rap community appears to be the clearest indicator of luxury brand's success), past experience tells us that Ford – and Lincoln – will just keep trying.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 181 Comments
      Synthono
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lincoln needs a Lincoln-specific platform. Something appropriate for a flagship but with potential to support other models.
        SethG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Synthono
        A great Lincoln-specific platform certainly would hurt. But to be a true luxury player they need to get the Lincolns out of the Ford dealerships.
          Synthono
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SethG
          Or just do a Hyundai and have valets pick up and drop off your car for service. It's a less expensive way to pull it off in the short term.
          SethG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SethG
          Synthono, you're exactly right. Hyundai figured this out with it's first luxury car. How can it be that Lincoln hasn't.
      L14t
      • 2 Years Ago
      I thought the big three were doing fairly well, and that ford is doing well whether Lincoln is doing good or bad
        • 2 Years Ago
        @L14t
        [blocked]
          L14t
          • 2 Years Ago
          thats kinda what I'm saying
      Wisdom Seeker
      • 2 Years Ago
      It seems not that long ago (Early 80s?) that Audi was on the ropes in the U.S. with the unintended acceleration claims. Incredible comeback to be where they are now.
        timbrands
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Wisdom Seeker
        ........and Lincoln in the mid 90s was neck and neck with Cadillac in sales. Then PAG, where Lincoln was ignored. Lincoln will be fine in 5 years. Just needs a darned good car or three!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Wisdom Seeker
        [blocked]
      Rob
      • 2 Years Ago
      Buick seems to have pulled itself out of a mess but Lincoln and Acura are spiraling down. I give lincoln three years and Acura four to five unless something drastic happens. Lincoln and Acura have limited global exposure and polarizing styling
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rob
        [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
      car4068043
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bring back the old Mark VII series complete with the football field length hood and big Rolls-Royce inspired grille, designer landau roof, opera lights, pimp-quality upholstrey, fold-away front lights and lotsa chrome-if we're gonna go to hell, we might as well enjoy the ride!
      Alex
      • 2 Years Ago
      "And as for the really cool car, that would be the new MKZ." Umm... Not exactly. With Audi, not only did they get the R8, but also the S and RS series of cars, a well done full lineup of cars, and wins at LeMans (in conjunction with their diesel technology). If Lincoln wants to be anything like Audi, they're going to have to come out with something VERY innovative. Something lustworthy. Something that people WANT to drive and be seen in. The MKZ is a step in the right direction from where they were, but its not enough. Nor is a new marketing agency. Lincoln has been one thing for so long that no one knows anything different but them being geriatric rebadged Fords with extra leather (the last of which you can get in normal Fords now anyways). I'm finding it hard to see Lincoln even getting as far as Cadillac has, unless they start coming out with some crazy and innovative concepts within the next few years.
        FunkyBanana
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex
        Audi's resurgence started back in the late 90's when they only had 1 cool car - the original A4. It was not anything groundbreaking but it was a cool and accesable car with a very nice interior. After that, they slowly revamped the entire line up to the point we get a top to bottom steller group of choices. Before the A4 Audi made average niche cars.
          Alex
          • 2 Years Ago
          @FunkyBanana
          Yes, that is true, but Audi at least had one redeeming quality: Quattro. And like you said, they had the A4. Lincoln at least needs an A4, which they don't have and based on the platforms they're using, I'm not sure they could get one. Actually that thought just made me realize how to save Lincoln: Give them a car based on the Falcon.
          EXP Jawa
          • 2 Years Ago
          @FunkyBanana
          But quattro existed well before the A4. That wasn't really as much of a factor in salvaging their brand name as the actual car - many of which were sold as FWD models. But maybe if Ford gave the AWD system in the new MKZ a catchy marketing name and promoted the crap out of it, it would be beneficial...
          throwback
          • 2 Years Ago
          @FunkyBanana
          Correct! The original A4 was so far removed from the 80 that preceeded it, it was a revelation. That was the first small Audi that could compete with a 3 series (in terms of desire) and set the tone for all the audis that followed. it still turns my head when I see one pass by, beautiful proportions.
      Tony
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bring the Australian Ford Falcon over as a "hot rod Lincoln" and create a suicide door flagship like the 2002 Continental concept car. Problem solved.
        merlot066
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tony
        The easiest solution would be stretching and widening the Mustang platform. Lincoln Drive Control, IRS, and a great Lincoln interior would make a perfect Mark X.
      ddirkdiggler302
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hope the big three all get back to where they use to be it will keep cost low.
      Jesus!
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like the new MKZ but there is nothing luxurious about a black plastic bumper on a 32k and up car. If Ford wants Lincoln to be known as it once was they are going to have to get off this black plastic streak(thank God it ended in the Mustang), and they are going to have to go back to real names. When I hear Navigator, Town Car, Continental, etc. great memories of Lincoln come to mind from my childhood...and my childhood was not that long ago im only 33. Ford, I would buy a Lincoln but I am sorry it needs to be luxurious from top to bottom and needs a real name. Lincoln is American luxury and people still want it, but it needs to be evolved in the right way. So fix that tacky rear bumper, get some real names going again, build a convertible and a flagship and were back in business.
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jesus!
        While alphanumerics can be successful if they represent a lineage of desirable models (think BMW 3, ///M, Ferraris, etc), there is nothing sexy about calling all of your models MKZ MKS, etc, especially if it's not pertaining to any of your past models (that are way more memorable).
      cljvedelman
      • 2 Years Ago
      My brother in law recently bought a Lincoln hybrid. He loves the car. I was in it and I will say that it is as nice a car as I have ever been in.
      Justin Campanale
      • 2 Years Ago
      I lol'd a little bit when I read this. Even if Lincoln fails, which may or may not come true, you still have so many brands out there. Ford, Chey, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, which are all strong in their own right. Face it, Ford really only needs one brand to survive. Lincoln is a dead brand walking and they are still doing great. BMW, Audi never had to do what Lincpln is about to do. Audi was already well known for producing slightly upscale, sporty cars with quattro $wd. They simply moved their product line upmarket a little bit.
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Justin, i think youve made your point...lol....several times....
          k_m94
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          I know, right? Spamming the submit button is dumb.
          k_m94
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          I know, right? Spamming the submit button is dumb.
      chetter442
      • 2 Years Ago
      In Atlanta, all the stand-alone Lincoln dealers were closed and combined with Ford dealerships. Now the dealership that services my Lincoln LT truck has decided to open a separate waiting room for Lincoln customers in their service department. If you want to separate a brand from it's parent, don't combine the dealerships!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @chetter442
        [blocked]
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