Lincoln looks set to mimic Ford’s on-going shift away from sedans. The move makes sense on the surface, but analysts warn the luxury brand needs to keep some low-riding models in its portfolio.
The publication learned Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, factory will stop manufacturing the MKZ in late 2020 or early 2021, and it pointed out UAW documents note Continental production will continue “through its product lifecycle.” In other words, it’s the last model on the Continental branch of the Lincoln family tree.
These two nameplates represent 23.3 percent of Lincoln’s annual sales so far in 2019, which is a surprising and respectable statistic. One in four cars the company sells is a sedan. The problem is that they accounted for 27.6 percent of the firm’s sales in 2018, and that number will continue to fall in 2020 as customers flock towards crossovers and SUVs. And yet, exiting the sedan market isn’t the right answer for a company that wants to re-establish its reputation as a luxury automaker.
Eric Noble, the president of consulting firm CarLab, told The Detroit Free Press about 40 percent of American buyers in the market for a luxury car choose a sedan. The Chinese market — where Lincoln hopes to gain a secure foothold in the coming years — also has a healthy appetite for sedans. Going SUV-only is a strategy that might work well in the United States, but it doesn’t suit Lincoln’s ambitions. Germany’s big three luxury brands all have a flagship sedan at the top of their range.
There are ways to keep buyers in the fold, however. The Continental is a stellar effort from the brand, and a solid foundation on which to build. Noble pointed out Lincoln could use the rear-wheel drive platform found under its Aviator and Ford’s latest Explorer to build a four-door model with a fastback-like roof line in the vein of the Audi A7. It’s a sleeker, sexier body style that tends to attract more buyers than a more conventional three-box sedan, which is often criticized as old-fashioned. Automakers can normally get away with charging a little bit more for these cars; the A7 is more expensive than the A6, for example.
None of this is official; we know Lincoln is working on at least two electric models, but it sounds like they’ll be crossovers or SUVs. One will allegedly use technology sourced from Rivian. In the meantime, we suggest acting fast if you want to put a Continental or a MKZ in your garage.