Lincoln product plan seeks hits, not halos
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly cast Lincoln's July U.S. sales decline as the brand's year-to-date decline.
When it comes to a future product plan, less is more as far as the Lincoln brand is concerned.
Lincoln, which ranks well below Nissan's Infiniti brand and just above Toyota's Scion brand on the sales charts so far this year, doesn't want to waste money and energy on segments in which the return will be minimal.
That means no halo cars and no low-volume flagship cars -- think Audi A8 -- that cost hundreds of millions to develop but sell fewer than 10,000 units a year.
Instead, Lincoln will offer a limited lineup focused solely on the highest-volume luxury segments, Lincoln sources say.
It's a pragmatic strategy for the brand, which is struggling to reinvent itself for a new generation of younger customers.
The 2013 MKZ sedan -- with its optional retractable, panoramic sun roof, push-button transmission and horizontal spread-eagle chrome grille -- will be as close to a halo car as Lincoln will offer in the near future. But the MKZ, Lincoln hopes, won't be just some pretty showroom ornament; the brand needs to move them in decent numbers. The MKZ must play in the high-volume, entry-luxury sedan segment.
In another year or so, Lincoln will enter the hot entry-luxury crossover wars with a vehicle tentatively called the MKC, which shares its architecture with the Ford Escape. Redesigns of the MKX, MKT, MKS and the Navigator will follow.
Lincoln's strategy might be dubbed "Walk before you run." But with U.S. sales down 11 percent in July and 2 percent for the year and market share down to 0.6 percent, even walking is enough of a challenge.
You can reach Bradford Wernle at firstname.lastname@example.org.