Lincoln may extend Mich. MKZ inspections
Photo credit: BRADFORD WERNLE
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. may extend quality inspections of the 2013 Lincoln MKZ at its Flat Rock, Mich., plant even after reaching normal dealer stocking levels on the new luxury sedan by the end of this month.
Lincoln officials had previously said the Flat Rock inspections for the MKZ, which is made at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant, would end about mid-March.
"Our goal would be to have all the quality checks at Hermosillo," Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said during Ford's February sales conference call last week. But he said Ford would continue the Flat Rock inspections for "as long as it takes."
Lincoln launched a new quality inspection process for the MKZ in January. The company has said that the number of MKZs coming off the line exceeded the capacity of inspectors in Hermosillo to keep up. So Lincoln began shipping all MKZs -- except those bound for Western and Southwestern states -- to Flat Rock.
Czubay said: "The No. 1 priority for us is that the MKZs will be premium luxury quality." He added that Ford has begun delivering "approximately 100 MKZs per day."
Continued delays in getting the MKZ to dealers hobbled Lincoln sales in February as most dealers have sold all remaining stocks of 2012 MKZs. The MKZ was the biggest selling Lincoln in 2012, followed by the MKX crossover.
Lincoln sales dropped 29 percent in February, dragged down by a 62 percent plunge in MKZ sales.
The company is heralding the MKZ as the first in a new generation of Lincolns that will appeal to a new, younger generation of luxury customers.
But the delays in delivering the car have frustrated dealers, who have had to explain the delays to customers and have gotten little or no information from Lincoln about when ordered cars might arrive. Lincoln sponsored commercials touting the car and the rebranded Lincoln Motor Co. during the Feb. 3 Super Bowl and the Feb. 10 Grammy Awards, among other programs. Dealers say they have seen increased interest in the car since the spots ran.
Asked how dealers are handling the delays with customers, Czubay said: "They have demos. They're delivering pre-sold vehicles. Dealers are explaining the circumstances."
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