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Lincoln’s MKZ Hybrid sales surprise even Ford

Last summer, I asked a Ford Motor Co. executive how many Lincoln MKZ Hybrids the company might sell.

Not many, he said.

He said Lincoln offered the MKZ Hybrid mostly to broaden its lineup and that demand would be small.

Today, almost every Lincoln dealer I talk to says the MKZ Hybrid sells like hot cakes.

Even Ford seems surprised by the car’s sales rate.

The automaker expected the hybrid to account for about 15 percent of total MKZ sales. Instead, it’s tracking at 22 to more than 23 percent since January, Ford says. And March is shaping up to be about the same.

This year through February, Lincoln sold 3,343 MKZs, 762 of which were hybrids. That’s well ahead of competitors such as the Lexus HS 250h sedan. Lexus HS sales through February are down 76 percent to 469 units.

Part of the reason for the MKZ Hybrid’s stronger-than-expected sales is Ford’s decision to price it the same as the gasoline version. Both start at $35,455, including shipping. Most manufacturers charge a premium for a hybrid.

A Lincoln spokesman says Ford priced it for competitive reasons and to “differentiate it in the luxury marketplace” as the hybrid customers don’t have to pay extra to own.

Now consider that AAA shows the average price for regular gasoline in the United States is $3.585 a gallon compared with $2.803 a year ago.

No premium amid rising gasoline prices?

No one should be surprised at the MKZ Hybrid sales.

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