Lincoln MKT sales have been less than stellar since the three-row crossover arrived back in 2009, but Ford is getting creative to change that. The Blue Oval is developing a pair of livery-ready MKT models to cover everything from school dances and weddings to executive transport.
The first MKT variant is aimed squarely at the livery market, which until now has happily relied on the aging Lincoln Town Car to ferry executives to and from the airport. The third row will be removed and the second row extended to emulate the Town Car's prodigious rear leg room. The second MKT variant is for the limo market and will be built on a heavy duty chassis that allows for up to 120 inches – 10 feet! – of additional wheel base stretch.
Both vehicles will come standard with Wi-Fi and the Sync infotainment system. They'll also be available with all-wheel drive to help make up for the loss of the Town Car's familiar rear-wheel-drive architecture.
Considering the Town Car will soon be toast, it makes sense for Ford to invest in a new livery vehicle for the 21st century so as not to lose those customers. With the MKT's inviting interior, connectivity options and optional all-wheel drive, we think their choice makes sense to serve best both the livery and limo segments. We can't wait to see what an MKT with a 10-foot stretch looks like, but the livery version will arrive first with production starting in early 2012.
"Lincoln has been the leader in livery and limousine solutions for decades, and we are pleased to introduce fresh options to satisfy a whole new generation of customers," said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company's president of The Americas.
"Whether customers need new technology to stay connected as they navigate through town during their work days or want extra room to transport more guests during nights out on the town, Lincoln has the solution," he said.
Lincoln is offering two new livery vehicles based on the Lincoln MKT full-size premium crossover – a standard livery vehicle with stretched second-row seating and a modified heavy-duty chassis version ideal for limousine modification.
The Lincoln MKT plays to the strengths of this segment, providing spacious interiors, high rooflines, abundant trunk space and easier ingress and egress; allowing for all-wheel drive; and providing the latest in-car Wi-Fi technologies for passengers to remain productive and SYNC technology so drivers can connect with their Bluetooth devices while leaving their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
The Lincoln MKT's craftsmanship also is reflected in the livery and limousine versions, too, with precise panel margins and high tactile quality of interior surfaces and trim. High-quality materials and precise execution appear on every surface, including the leather-trimmed seating. The vehicle also delivers luxurious ride quality synonymous with the Lincoln brand.
The livery version is available in both FWD and on-demand AWD configurations, with engine availability to be announced later. The heavy-duty limousine chassis will feature standard all-wheel drive for stretch limousine construction up to an additional 120 inches – or 10 feet – of wheelbase.
To develop the new livery vehicle, engineers worked hand in hand with the Limo Livery Advisory board, which provided key input on vehicle attributes such as performance, comfort and functionality, in addition to the quality, reliability and durability the industry demands.
They also went straight to the people who would be using the vehicles most – owners, drivers and passengers – to get a better understanding of their wants and needs.
"We conducted research to make sure we designed the new Lincoln livery solutions to truly deliver on the needs of operators to improve their business and provide end users modern transportation capable of full connectivity," said Gerry Koss, fleet marketing manager. "These industry stakeholders made it clear that this vehicle was the right direction because of the great body proportions, choice of AWD with the livery version and standard AWD with the limousine version – not to mention Lincoln's reputation for dependability, especially with specialty vehicles."
Luxurious comfort on the go
With even more attention to detail, the Lincoln livery and limousine solutions will put passengers on the move at ease, thanks to the redesigned second row. With third-row seating removed, the second-row reclining seat has been repositioned for additional legroom. Plus, a switch controls the front passenger seat, providing even more legroom if necessary.
"A luxury car owner will not miss a beat sitting in the rear seat in the new Lincoln livery vehicles," said Scott Tobin, Lincoln vehicle line director. "We've enhanced the rear passenger experience so the rider is both extremely comfortable and can be very efficient at the same time."
A USB charging port and 110-volt plug in the second row helps riders stay connected while on the road. There are audio controls within reach from the second row. This will ensure that the vehicles are capable of supporting passengers wishing to remain connected and productive, together with Wi-Fi hot spot capability.
Additional features include:
• Puddle lamps on the rear doors
• Map and newspaper pockets on the back of the front seats
• Vanity mirrors in the headliner with integrated task light
• Continuous rear floor mat for both footwells
The Lincoln MKT-based livery product provides operators cargo capacity of 39.6 cubic feet, a significant improvement versus the traditional sedans used in the industry today.
With capacity to haul golf clubs or several pieces of baggage, the luggage area exceeds that of the current Town Car. An option of both a full and mini spare tire is available to help maximize the space. There's even a driver's storage area that has been incorporated into the luggage area.
The Lincoln livery vehicle delivers abundant technologies aimed at making life easier for drivers. A state-of-the-art navigation system and Lincoln SYNC provides a smart, safe, simple way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives.
"All of these tools will help drivers accomplish just as much in their car as they do now but with less distraction," said Tobin. "They'll never have to take their hands off the steering wheel when putting an address into the navigation system, for example."
The livery vehicle also features:
• BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert: The system uses two radar sensors located in the rear quarter panels to detect vehicles in the surrounding lanes. If a vehicle is detected in the driver's blind spot zones, the system alerts the driver with a warning light in the sideview mirror.
• Rear view camera: When the vehicle is in rear camera mode, a color image with guidance markers on the rearview mirror will assist the driver in backing up.
Limousine option available
In addition to the new Lincoln livery solution, a specially engineered heavy-duty limousine chassis also is available. By stretching up to 120 inches – or 10 feet – extra length to support the standard all-wheel-drive powertrain, engineers have created a capable limousine chassis that will satisfy both operators and customers in all seasons.
The limousine chassis comes complete with several heavy-duty components, such as upgraded suspension, electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) and transmission. It's offered with on-demand AWD and has everything from unique wheels and tires to unique wheel bearings and an upsized brake system.
The limousine also has the third row removed and comes equipped with a full-size spare tire. Available technology includes a rear view camera system and Lincoln SYNC.
"The limousine complements the livery vehicle so that we have a vehicle ready for every passenger situation," said Koss. "Both vehicles will deliver the features and content this industry requires in addition to the quality, reliability and durability they demand."
Technology under the skin
The new Lincoln livery solutions feature safety technologies from the Lincoln MKT, including Ford's Trinity Front Crash Body Architecture. The energy-absorbing body structure is optimized for strength and stiffness and features octagonal front frame rails, engine cradle/front subframe and "shotgun" front structural members designed to absorb and redirect crash forces away from the passenger compartment.
It also includes Side Protection And Cabin Enhancement Architecture (SPACE®) to optimize side-impact occupant protection. The SPACE system integrates a hydroformed high-strength steel tube in the floor that runs the width of the vehicle from B-pillar to B-pillar and reinforcements along the rocker panels to help protect passengers in side-impact incidents.
The Personal Safety System™ also is available, which combines multiple technologies to tailor the airbag package and seat belt functions to the individual passenger and the accident circumstances. The system can identify variables, such as severity of the crash, weight of the individual passenger and seat belt usage, to adjust airbag deployment force.
Lincoln's new livery vehicles will be manufactured at Oakville Assembly Complex starting in early 2012.