Lincoln is "not true luxury," according to Ford's design boss, J Mays. His statements come from a story in The Detroit News that saw candid language on the issues facing Ford's troubled premium brand. Notably, there's a need for a strong character, with Mays saying, "Every brand needs to have a DNA and a unique selling point and things in the vehicle that make you think, 'That's that particular brand.'"

With a range of rebadged Fords, it's not hard to see why that DNA is missing. Mays hinted that a full recovery for Lincoln will be a ten-year process, that's been kicked off with the MKZ sedan. While that car is still largely a Ford Fusion under its extremely pretty wrapper, it's the first Lincoln in some time to inject its own unique take both through the exterior styling and through interior features, such as the vertical, pushbutton gear selection.

Some analysts weren't so certain about Mays' 10-year estimate. Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics thinks it'll be more like 30 years before Lincoln can show a true return to form. The issue, as Hall explains it, is that, "luxury has a degree of exclusivity," that Lincoln just doesn't have. Michelle Krebs from Edmunds adds, "it's definitely a wanna-be luxury brand," comparing the troubled American brand with Infiniti and Acura, two other brands that have struggled to find their place in the luxury market.

From the language Mays is using, though, it seems that Ford is still rather committed to Lincoln. The MKZ, while plagued by production issues, has been a steady seller, although not enough to prevent an overall drop in 2013 sales for the brand. The eventual arrival of the Ford Escape-based MKC could be a boon to the brand, provided its as unique as the MKZ. Lincoln is also preparing to go on sale in China, a market that has traditionally loved brands unloved by Americans (see Buick), so while Ford's luxury brand might be down, it's probably nowhere close to out.


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  • 134 Comments
      Jonathan Ippolito
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well they should start out with the next gen mustang platform and build a new Mark 10 and small sedan off of it . Next streach the Mustang platform and build a sedan off it . Take the soon to be canceled Falcon platform and move it to Lincoln and have them design a next generation Falcon platform and build a sedan off of it and call it Continental . The last step is to stretch the next gen Falcon platform and build a sedan and call it Town Car . This would be the best way to save the brand . Come on Ford wise up . You have the upcoming Mustang platform and you still have the soon to be canceled Falcon platform and they are exactly what the buyer wants in a Lincoln .
      cpmanx
      • 1 Year Ago
      it's good to hear some words of commitment toward Lincoln, but it's still not clear that Ford is willing to invest the billions of dollars needed to make Lincoln a "true" luxury brand. Last year Ford sold 5.7 million vehicles. Lincoln sold 85,000. Ford could shut the brand tomorrow and there would be no discernible effect on either its sales numbers or its financial results. Personally I would love to see Lincoln reborn as a stylish, powerful, confident American luxury brand. But that is a very expensive proposition, and what makes sense to us auto enthusiasts may not make sense to the accountants who actually control these decisions. In the long run, there are trends that may save Lincoln. One is the move of MB and BMW into the lower reaches of the market, which shows the power (and profit) of an effective brand and which puts pressure on other companies competing in those segments with cheaper, less profitable vehicles. The other is the rise of the Chinese luxury market, which might give Lincoln enough extra volume to justify real investment in the brand.
      jonnybimmer
      • 1 Year Ago
      " Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics thinks it'll be more like 30 years before Lincoln can show a true return to form. The issue, as Hall explains it, is that, "luxury has a degree of exclusivity," that Lincoln just doesn't have. Michelle Krebs from Edmunds adds, "it's definitely a wanna-be luxury brand," comparing the troubled American brand with Infiniti and Acura, two other brands that have struggled to find their place in the luxury market." While I agree with everyone else that Lincoln is definitely not a luxury brand at this point and needs to really invest some serious money/R&D to develop its own separate brand identity, I'd argue that Ford has the resources to be able to pull it off in 10 if they really tried. Look at Lexus, Cadillac, and Audi. All of these brands have transformed themselves in about a 10 year period due to serious dedication (investing) and a unique but consistent identity. I think Ford just has to decided how dedicated are they to really giving Lincoln another chance.
        GFB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jonnybimmer
        Lexus had NO heritage or reputation when the shocked the automotive world with their first LS model. Lexus came out of the box with a car that differentiated itself from Toyotas in America by: 1. Introducing it as a RWD car when current Toyotas were FWD; 2. Benchmarking the best in the world (Mercedes); 3. Paying fanatical attention to details such as build quality and performance. They didn't wait ten years. Lincoln does not have to wait ten years but they are tethered to Ford which has no clue as to how to attack the luxury market. All Lincoln has to do is design and build ONE stunning, aspirational car that has no Ford DNA and they can leapfrog their reputation up to the front ranks. Pundits like Jim Hall talk. Real car companies act.
      truewhiteboy
      • 1 Year Ago
      I dunno, I have a hard time taking Acura as a true luxury brand when they're putting stuff like the ILX out.
      Stinkyboy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lincoln needs to build custom cars similar to a Bentley.
      cpmanx
      • 1 Year Ago
      The DetNews story, presumably based on J Mays's comments, forecasts "three new vehicles in coming years." That would seem to be the new MKC, MKX, and MKS scheduled for the next two years, and suggests no additions to the product lineup beyond what's been officially declared. Could be that Lincoln has more in store. The Car & Driver states outright that a RWD coupe is coming. But for now it's all rumor. It's refreshing to hear a smidge of honesty when Mays says that Lincoln needs major investment and is not a true luxury brand yet. But there's no sign of any major investment based on what's been officially revealed. My strong suspicion is that Ford execs are waiting until after the brand launches in China to see what kind of volume it generates there. That in turn will define the P&L statement that determines whether Lincoln gets unique engines and its own modular platform, or if it simply muddles on as a high-trim version of the Ford lineup.
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is what I've been saying for so long, Lincoln does not need to be full featured lineup. I envision Lincoln with a handful of cars just entering the six figure dollar range like Bentley. Go back and look at concepts of yesterday you would swear that is how they want to take the brand not Ford based cars. Lincoln is already niche, nobody said you have sell 100-200k cars a year to be successful. Imagine hand crafted six figure Lincoln's built here it just sounds right but it will require Ford to commit big time.
      Gary
      • 1 Year Ago
      Probably most of the folks that have commented on the new MKZ don't own or haven't even driven the car. I own a 2013 MKZ find it a great car. It's loaded and find the safety features are easy to use unlike the Cadillac.
      Randy
      • 1 Year Ago
      If Hyundai which by all means in not a luxury brand can make a luxury car (albeit largely stolen styling) then Lincoln should have no problem coming back faster than 10 years. The DNA Lincoln needs is performance. Every model should have an SVT-like equivalent and of coursr the eco friendly versions too. Add unique and more masculine styling, do away with the MK-shyt names and viola, the brand is reborn. I'd go retro-modern too!
      Brodz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ford doesn't know what's wrong. They're idiots. They think if they take their acceptable normal people cars and tart them up, then it's luxury. But the people who buy luxury cars aren't fooled. They don't want tarted up Ford's. They want something special, something that stands out for all the luxury reasons, not for all the equipment and gadgets. Lincoln needs RWD, it's needs V8's, and it needs sharper styling.
        speeddanimal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brodz
        STOP WITH THE RWD SCHTICK!!! Its getting old. Almost all of Audi volume is FWD/AWD. Lexus ES is one of the highest volume 'luxury' cars around. BMW is moving to FWD on the 1-series. Mercedes is moving to FWD on the CLA. RWD does not inherently make a luxury car. Lincoln has plenty of things it needs to address. RWD is not one of them.
          GFB
          • 1 Year Ago
          @speeddanimal
          Almost all of Audi models were designed on Audi FWD platforms making them unique and differentiated from VWs. Lexus gained their rep with distinctive RWD cars before playing the volume game with rebadged Toyotas. Mercedes is going FWD in response to its diminishing market share among the luxo-German marques. Lincoln has plenty to address. The main thing is its rep as merely a premium-priced trim-level of Ford. Only product differentiation will save Lincoln and the best way to differentiate from Ford's FWD lineup is to offer a RWD lineup.
          Julius
          • 1 Year Ago
          @speeddanimal
          Problem is this - Lincoln NEEDS a way to differentiate itself from Ford to better succeed. One way is the "performance" route Cadillac took with RWD/V8 models. Lincoln doesn't have to do that - it can go another route by being an all-hybrid brand. Regardless, Lincoln DOES need differentiation of some kind. And I'd also point out that the new 1-Series and CLA are both BMW's and Mercedes' attempts to move DOWNMARKET into a cheaper price point... so if Lincoln has UPMARKET aspirations, it'll need at least one "halo" car (e.g. M/AMG/RS/V-Series) that Ford does not.
      Mobis21
      • 1 Year Ago
      The primary problem with Ford's Lincoln brand is Lincoln itself. Seriously. No one really knows what a Lincoln is today because they are all basically dressed up fords. Lincoln can't be considered luxury since they don't even have a rear driver in their line-up anymore and to pretend they are luxury is just dumb-foolish. The best way to describe Lincoln? Ford brand with no identity.
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      It won't be a true luxury brand until Ford invests some real R&D money in giving them unique platforms. A Fusion with a different body is not a luxury car.
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