DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. offered a glimpse into its future Lincoln product plan today, saying Lincoln vehicles will be dramatically different from Ford division products in interior and exterior design as well as with technology offerings such as some unique powertrains.
“The strategy isn't just new products, but full differentiation from the Ford brand in not only design, but in technology,” Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development, told a group of auto analysts at the Detroit auto show.
That means Lincoln vehicles will not share sheet metal with any Ford products. Kuzak also said Lincoln vehicles will get some unique powertrains.
Lincoln plans to eliminate at least 200 franchises in the top 130 U.S. markets. Those who want to stay must agree to expensive facility upgrades and other changes.
Many Lincoln dealers want to know more details about Lincoln's future lineup before making that decision.
Kuzak said Ford is able to tweak existing Ford platforms to make them unique to Lincoln. For example, he said, consider Ford's power steering or chassis electronic control. “Imagine adding suspension control to that and what would happen to the platform if you did that on Lincoln only,” he said.
Ford's plans for Lincoln products will also include newly designed interiors, expanded V-6 engine offerings, and upgrading features such as paddle shifters and all-wheel drive, Scott Tobin, Lincoln's director of product development, told Automotive News.
But a rear-wheel drive Lincoln is not in the plans, Tobin said.
It's unclear what will happen to the front-end waterfall grille.
“I love the waterfall grille,” Tobin said. “We'll continue to evolve the front end though. It'll evolve.”
Ford discontinued its Mercury brand on Dec. 31. Ford said it now has more money to rebuild its remaining luxury brand: Lincoln. Ford sold Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally told auto analysts Ford won't make Lincoln a global brand any time soon.
“Our focus right now is in the United States because we have a lot of brand equity,” Mulally said. “And we didn't tarnish the brand, we just didn't invest in it.”