Lincoln's new product flow pleases dealers

The 2015 Lincoln MKC should help U.S. dealers boost sales this year.
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NEW ORLEANS -- Nathaniel Sutton, president of Sutton Ford-Lincoln in Matteson, Ill., believes his Lincoln sales will jump 20 to 50 percent in 2015 as the brand's new-product drought eases.

Lincoln dealers will have the benefit of a full year of production of the MKZ mid-sized sedan. They'll get another boost from the 2015 MKC, a compact crossover being introduced in the second quarter, and the restyled, re-engineered 2015 Navigator on sale in the fall.

The Lincoln brand, after years of sales declines, saw a dismal 1 percent drop in U.S. sales to 81,694 vehicles in 2013 in an overall market that gained 8 percent.

Sutton wants to regain lost customers with the Navigator, he said in an interview after the Lincoln make meeting.

"Hopefully it will help us get back some of our Escalade customers," he said, referring to the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln's main rival in the large, luxury SUV segment.

Sutton sold about 100 Lincolns last year and hopes to see that number grow to 120 to 150 this year.

Bill Knight, chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council, said the mood at this year's franchise meeting was better than at last year's when Lincoln dealers were awaiting the arrival of the redesigned 2013 MKZ, delayed by quality glitches and parts shortages.

The MKZ was launched at the Hermosillo, Mexico, plant hot on the heels of the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion. The MKC will be made at Ford's Louisville, Ky., plant on the same line as its platform mate, the Ford Escape. But MKC production will begin after nearly two years of experience building the Escape.

Lincoln head Jim Farley said: "Obviously, we've really learned a lot."

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@crain.com.


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