Spannerhead Dot

New Lincoln MKZ Concept: Staying the Course

January 11, 2012 by Matt

Lincoln MKZ Concept Red

In a recent editorial for Jalopnik, Matt Hardigree offers an insightful take on the new Lincoln MKZ concept, unveiled at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Here’s the takeaway quote:

So long as Ford continues to build upscale, cheaper cars on the same platform, why buy an MKZ when you can spend less money and get an equally attractive 2013 Ford Fusion? What’s the compelling case for Lincoln?

There is none. Almost none of Lincoln’s arguments were about product. They were about image. The didn’t even commit to building this car because that would mean talking definitively about Lincoln’s future.

Late last September I wrote a post in which I brainstormed a few paths to Lincoln’s revival. Unfortunately, as the Jalopnik post points out and the MKZ concept itself gives evidence for, it seems the automaker has decided to double down on the style-over-substance-based, badge-engineered-Ford approach.

Lincoln MKZ Concept Red

It’s difficult to understand how parent company Ford could have any reasonable expectation that this strategy would lead to Lincoln’s success. All evidence points otherwise: The automaker has used the same product planning and marketing strategy for years, and has experienced a decline in sales to the point where the brand is barely afloat. In one magazine comparison test after another, the cars generated by this approach have been utterly trounced by the competition, building a negative brand perception in enthusiasts’ minds which eventually trickles out into the larger car-buying population. And just across the way, Cadillac, which had adhered to a remarkably similar image-based marketing game plan for years, has experienced a near-miraculous reinvention by focusing more attention on the dynamics and details of their cars than on creating some kind of illusory image in a would-be buyer’s mind about “the kind of man/woman who drives a Lincoln.” It would be charmingly archaic if it weren’t pitched with a straight face.

The evidence is all around that the “new” product development scheme has little chance of success. At this point, it’s difficult not to think Ford deliberately wants to kill Lincoln.

Filed under: Auto Shows, Car Industry, Concept Cars, Lincoln, News

Leave a Reply