LOS ANGELES — Lincoln will continue its alphabetic naming scheme on new vehicles, Ford Motor Co. executives say.
Two years ago, Lincoln switched to letter names that begin with MK. Some critics say the new names are confusing. Ford executives occasionally have mixed up the names when speaking about Lincoln vehicles.
CEO Alan Mulally has criticized Ford for switching vehicle names too often and abandoning heritage nameplates such as Taurus. Asked in October whether Lincoln would drop alpha names or change the coming MKS flagship sedan to the Continental, Mulally said: "Those are interesting possibilities. We'll see. But consistency of purpose is really important."
It looks like consistency will prevail. The MKS, unveiled last month at the Los Angeles auto show, will go on sale next summer as the MKS, said Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas.
And Lincoln expects other alpha names beyond MKS, said Mike Richards, Lincoln Mercury general marketing manager. But there are no plans to rename the Navigator SUV, he said.
That would suggest the next alpha name after MKS will apply to a large crossover that Ford officials have confirmed. The Lincoln crossover, based on the coming Ford Flex, is expected in 2009, although Ford hasn't confirmed production timing.
Lincoln officials contend alpha names put their products in line with other luxury marques. The names also put the emphasis on Lincoln rather than the nameplate, allowing the luxury brand to more efficiently market its entire showroom.
Said Richards: "It's costly to brand every single horse in the stable as opposed to just branding the entire primary brand."