Lincoln skips Detroit, maybe New York? Dealers need news soon

Lincoln dealers must look with envy at Buick dealers as General Motors Co. shows off its 2012 Buick Verano compact sedan.

Lincoln dealers still must wait to see the compact vehicle Ford Motor Co. will deliver as promised by 2014. And if Lincoln dealers hope for that news -- or any Lincoln product news -- during the Detroit auto show, they'll be sorely disappointed.

Mum is still the word on Lincoln.

Maybe Detroit isn't the right venue for a luxury brand to make a key reveal?

After all, GM's luxury brand, Cadillac, is bypassing this show. Perhaps the New York auto show might be a better venue for Lincoln news. That's only a few months away and historically has featured more luxury reveals.

But Ford's delay in revealing details of the “seven new or significantly improved” Lincoln products it has promised in the next four years can't be sustained much longer. Ford must reveal some product news on its remaining luxury brand this year -- period.

After all, Ford has asked each of its Lincoln dealers to make a serious decision this year: Agree to make expensive facility upgrades and other changes or give up the franchise.

Many Lincoln dealers say they can't make that decision without knowing the future lineup. And not knowing it erodes their confidence in the brand's future.

The longer Ford waits to reveal its plans for Lincoln products, the higher the risk that the good dealers that Ford wants to keep will opt out instead.