Motor Shows

Ford to expand Lincoln luxury brand

After selling off its premium brands – Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo – Ford championed its leftover luxury marque, Lincoln, at the Detroit auto show, revealing a new compact SUV, announcing the introduction of two all-new models in the near future, and expansion into global markets – including possibly Australia in the long term.
- shares

As with Lexus and Audi utilising Toyota and Volkswagen components, respectively, executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service, Jim Farley, says the reinvented Lincoln will use existing Ford platforms.

“This [Kuga-based Lincoln MKC] is one of more than 10 vehicles off the Focus platform. It [platform sharing] is a very important part for all brands … Toyota, Volkswagen…

“Most mass brands who have a luxury brand use their platforms.

“One of the big benefits of global ‘One Ford’ is that this is a European platform that allows us to build such a beautiful Lincoln.”

Asked whether sharing platforms means making differentiation between Ford and Lincoln difficult, Farley responded emphatically.

“No, actually, it’s the opposite. Because you don’t have to invest your money into the parts of a platform that customers don’t see. You can put all your money and resources into the part that customers see. So it works the opposite way."

With established German brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz increasing their development budget and finding new niches, it was suggested to Farley that Lincoln may fall victim of utilising a relative ‘shoe string’ budget.

“I certainly would challenge that thinking.

“Four all-new products, all the investment… These are new platforms for Lincoln, global platforms for us. The investment is significant.

“This is a really huge commitment by the company to develop our Lincoln business. The resources committed are significant … billions.

“For that kind of capital we also have a dedicated engineering team, a dedicated design studio. Dedicated people in the field of quality and manufacturing.

“We made the decision to have laser-focus on Lincoln. The fruits of that are just emerging now with the MKZ. It’s a hint of where we’re going next.

“We have two all-new products after this. The dealers are transforming our dealership presence as well.”

Farley could not confirm what the two products are that will follow the existing Mondeo-based MKZ, and the Kuga-based MKC which debuted at Detroit. A Focus-based small sedan and Taurus-based large sedan are the most likely options.

The marketing and sales chief agrees that, long-term, Lincoln needs to become a global luxury brand, however don’t expect to see the American luxury brand in Australia in the near future.

“We’ve decided to make a very challenging but rewarding decision to go to China with Lincoln next year.

“Our key is to make Lincoln compelling here in North America, first and foremost.

“I think certainly we’ll continue to look at opportunities outside of China and the US. We sell in South Korea and the Middle East…

“But frankly, we’ve deployed a lot of strategies in Australia, with Titanium and more upscale Fords, the new Territory is a good example of the high end that we can accomplish with Ford.

“I think that our objective for Australia, specifically, is really to continue to grow in the more vibrant part of the market, small cars and crossovers. And that’s an opportunity with new Ranger and a new SUV line-up.

“After that, we’ll see. There are a lot of emerging markets like Brazil and Russia on the luxury side that we’re looking at very carefully.

“But we don’t want to get the cart before the horse.”