Lincoln’s Strategic Second Installment Aims at the Crossover

Ford (NYSE:F) began its overhaul of the Lincoln brand with the MKZ, released late in 2012 as a 2013 model. The MKZ shares few similarities with its other Lincoln siblings, at least on the outside — which is exactly what Ford wanted. Though it’s had some success with the Navigator and Aviator SUVs, the Lincoln brand has often been blurred into the background, steeped in irrelevancy.

However, with a lineup of four new models, Ford is aiming to put Lincoln back on the map, and once again make the luxury marque a global contender against the likes of Cadillac (NYSE:GM), BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc. The second installment of Lincoln’s return to greatness is due to hit the market by the year’s endFinancial Times is reporting. Stephane Cesareo, Lincoln’s newly appointed global communications manager, said the brand planned to launch a new car based on its MKC concept vehicle, shown at January ’s Detroit auto show.

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The design is certainly a far cry from the brickish aesthetic of the Aviator and Navigator, and that’s a good thing — after all, this model will likely be going toe-to-toe with the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, two of the luxury crossover heavyweights.

“It’s the fastest-growing segment in the market,” Cesareo said, referring to the compact utility market. “But what is interesting also for Lincoln is that this is a white space for us.”

Eventually, the MKX midsize SUV and the MKS sedan will also be going under the knife, to help bring Lincoln’s image up to speed with the rest of the market.

In May, GM’s Cadillac line saw sales gains of nearly 40 percent over the May of 2012. Although the Lincoln MKZ held its own, with a 42 percent sales gain, the Lincoln brand as a whole eked out a 0.43 percent gain over the same period. It made it the last company to experience growth — although Maserati managed to sell exactly the same number of cars this May that it did last year.

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While the MKZ is nestling itself comfortably in the market, “We are still continuing to have to work with the other nameplates,” Cesareo said of the other, less up-to-date vehicles in the Lincoln range. “But we have other products to come.”

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