Friday 28 January 2022

Ford to overhaul Lincoln brand, this time with big bucks

DETROIT, October 25, 2014

Ford Motor Company's new chief executive, Mark Fields, is giving the automaker's long-moribund Lincoln brand what his predecessor Alan Mulally never could: a little love and a lot of cash.

Lincoln, a storied Detroit brand which Ford has owned since 1922, has been in a swoon for the past two decades, leaving dealers and customers wondering if Ford management had left the brand for dead.

Now, with the renewed backing of executive chairman Bill Ford and the company's board, Fields has committed the automaker to a multiyear, multibillion-dollar overhaul of Lincoln that includes a significant investment in a new premium vehicle platform that will underpin several future Lincoln vehicles, four sources told Reuters.

Ford could spend $5 billion or more over the next five years to revive Lincoln, revamp its product portfolio and reposition it as a true competitor to such global luxury leaders as Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the sources said. Details of the new platform and the size and scope of the investment have not previously been reported.

"It's really important for us to have a relevant and vibrant luxury brand," Fields told Reuters on Friday. "You need to make the investment and build this brand over time."

He declined to discuss details about Ford's spending and product plans.

Fields said Ford is looking at the Lincoln rebuilding effort "in terms of generations of products," an effort that will stretch well into the next decade.

Ford executives said last month that the immediate goal of the latest Lincoln turnaround effort is to triple the brand's global sales to 300,000 vehicles by 2020.

Several industry analysts have challenged that mark as overly optimistic, as have some former Ford executives who spoke with Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A longer-range target is to restore Lincoln's luster as a premium automotive marque in the United States and build it into a formidable competitor in China, where Ford is just now launching the brand years after most of its global luxury rivals entered the China market. On Friday, Ford delivered its first Lincoln in China, an MKZ sedan.

The springboard for the Lincoln revival plan is a new family of vehicles that will be built on a highly flexible premium platform that can be configured for front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive vehicles, according to industry sources familiar with Ford's plans.

That is a critical element that has been lacking in several previous, under-financed attempts to resuscitate the brand. Versions of the platform will be used by both the Lincoln and Ford brands, the sources said.-Reuters

Tags: Car | Ford | Lincoln |

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