Lincoln brand changes name as new MKZ goes on sale
By The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
DETROIT — After years of dismal sales, Ford's Lincoln luxury brand is reintroducing itself with a new name and a new midsize sedan.
The brand is returning to the name Lincoln Motor Co. as it launches its new MKZ sedan. That was its name before founder Henry Leland sold the brand to Ford in 1922, and it was used in advertising all the way through the 1970s and 1980s, Lincoln chief Jim Farley said. Consumer research showed that people found the name change intriguing.
“It's a refreshing change to highlight what will be great about Lincoln going forward, which is impeccable service and really breakthrough vehicles,” Farley told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.
The MKZ will arrive at dealerships this month. It starts at $35,925, or about the same as its archrival, the Lexus ES 350. A hybrid version is the same price. The MKZ is the first of seven new or revamped Lincolns that will go on sale by 2015.
The new sedan is longer and wider than the one it's replacing, giving it a more luxurious look. Among its new features are a push-button transmission instead of a shifter and an optional panoramic glass roof. It still has Lincoln's split-wing grille, a tribute to the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr and one of the brand's most recognizable features. But designers made the grille thinner and more tapered after complaints about the ungainly maw on the most recent Lincolns.
CEO Alan Mulally says the MKZ's elegant design is its most striking feature.
“It's smooth and soft. It will stand the test of time,” he told The Associated Press on Monday. The new car, he says, is the “proof point” of Ford's commitment to the Lincoln brand.
Ford will need all the help it can get as it revives Lincoln, which was the top-selling brand in the U.S. two decades ago. Sedans like the Continental and the Town Car used to be the pinnacle of luxury and good design. But then Ford bought up other luxury brands, like Jaguar and Volvo, and ignored Lincoln. Its lackluster products couldn't compete in the hotly contested luxury market.
Lincoln now has the lowest U.S. sales of any luxury brand, with just over 69,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. so far this year. BMW has sold more than four times that number.
Ford hopes to change that with a marketing blitz to introduce the MKZ. Farley and Mulally were promoting the new sedan with an event Monday at New York's Lincoln Center. Ford has hired former football star Emmitt Smith as Lincoln's new pitchman. It's also developing Lincoln's first Super Bowl ad with comedian Jimmy Fallon.
Farley says Lincoln is targeting customers who aren't served by the current luxury market.
“After the great recession, luxury customers really changed. People are really buying luxury to treat themselves, not to impress others,” Farley said.
He said Ford's research indicates that 25 percent of the luxury market is made up of quirkier, progressive buyers who aren't attracted to current brands.
“They want a warm and inviting automobile, one on one service, not a big box luxury retailer with 200 customers in the showroom,” he said.
Ford plans to meet those demands with a 24-hour live shopping concierge who can help buyers as well as lavish gifts for customers and “date nights,” where potential buyers are shown the new MKZ and then treated to a nice dinner.
“We know that for Lincoln to be successful we have to do two things: Surprise people with the product and deliver competitive service in the dealership,” Farley said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obamacare dramatically increases costs for some small businesses
- Marcellus shale driller Noble Energy Inc. sinks roots into Pittsburgh
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- Dick’s Sporting Goods usiness brisk while American Eagle feels chill in profits
- ‘Fresher, different, lot more fun’ guide changes at Kings Family Restaurants
- Profit falls at American Eagle Outfitters on sales decline, charges
- Sbarro again files for bankruptcy reorganization
- Stocks dip on gloomy data from Asia
- EBay shareholders urged to reject Icahn picks
- Regular IRA or Roth? Pick either
- 1,500 Bangladesh factories set to be inspected by August