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вторник, 21 июня 2011 г.

$1 Billion Says: Akerson Is Dead Wrong! Lincoln Lives!

Lincoln, once the conveyance of presidents and Hollywood moguls, hasn’t been doing too well lately. In May, Lincoln sold just 7,399 vehicles in the U.S., about the same as Volvo, a brand that Ford had sold to the Chinese. The average age of the Lincoln sold in 2010 edges up to the wheelchair-demographic: 62. Despite ample Panther-love doled out by TTAC, Lincoln is losing customers left and right: Every president from Calvin Coolidge through George H.W. Bush rode in a Lincoln limousine. The new prez defected to a Government Motors Beast.

The matter even attracted attention from Ford’s cross town rival GM. Its CEO Dan Akerson had some ungodly advice: “They are trying like hell to resurrect Lincoln. Well, I might as well tell you, you might as well sprinkle holy water. It’s over.”

Ford was faced with a tough decision: Keep it or kill it? And the decision is:

Lincoln lives!

Ford “is making a revival of its ailing Lincoln luxury brand its top priority,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Later this year, Ford will begin a sweeping make-over of the 96-year-old brand, to give staid Lincoln a new identity as a producer of high-tech, understated luxury cars.”

According to Reuters, Ford “is spending $1 billion in an effort to develop a new generation of vehicles for its struggling Lincoln brand.” That’s a bargain as far as luxury cars go. The development of Volkswagen’s Phaeton was rumored to exceed $1 billion, and we all knew what that got Volkswagen.

Ford will get “seven new or redesigned Lincolns” for the money, writes the WSJ. The first ones, arriving in November, are redesigns of the MKS sedan and MKT SUV. An all new MKZ will in late 2012. “The four remaining vehicles won’t be launched until 2013 or 2014,” says the Journal. That billion will need to last for a while.

In lieu of all-new cars, customers will get features: Self-tuning suspension systems, hands-free controls and entertainment systems, retractable, all-glass roofs and computerized sound-reduction technology.

Lincoln has to fight the perception that Lincolns are nothing but blinged-up Fords. That fight will continue for a while.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s head of global product development, told the Journal that the “seven new Lincolns in the pipeline will still share parts with Ford models, but he promised they will have unique exterior panels, headlamps and other touches to give them a distinct look.”

By Bertel Schmitt on June 21, 2011

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