“I root for the folks at Lincoln,” says Caddy brand boss Bob Ferguson, speaking to AutoGuide at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this week.
His comments are much more supportive than those of his colleague, Cadillac design chief Ed Welburn, who earlier this year scoffed at the struggling Lincoln Motor Company. “They’re not a global luxury brand. I don’t consider them a competitor,” he said in an interview.
Is Cadillac the only true American luxury brand? “Not at all,” said Ferguson. “I’m not dismissive.” He then went on to explain his philosophy. “The better we do as American luxury makers, the more credibility it adds to our offering.”
Ferguson said he shares the same thoughts about Tesla. “When people ask me what I think about Tesla, I tell them; ‘Isn’t it great to see another American luxury company doing well.'”
Still, Ferguson admits that Lincoln has, “difficult cards to play.”
Rather than unique platforms, the Ford luxury division is making due with building cars off of existing Ford products, with models like the MKZ sharing its underpinnings with the Fusion family sedan. Ford has upped its investment in Lincoln recently, however, adding its own, separate design center and even poaching then-Cadillac design chief Max Wolff.
Increased product variation has also become a part of the plan, with the new MKC crossover, while based on the Escape CUV, sporting a dramatically redesigned suspension setup with a wider track.
Yet the Lincoln brand only has five products; and that’s if you include the archaic Navigator SUV.
There’s no denying Lincoln has plenty of catch-up to do. Cadillac has been undergoing a product renaissance, which arguably dates all the way back to the introduction of the CTS in 2003. Having just launched the third generation of the model, the lineup has seen the addition of the new ATS as a true performance rival to the BMW 3 Series, as well as the XTS and recently an all-new Escalade. There’s even the Volt-based ELR and the Detroit Auto Show saw further expansion of the brand in a volume direction with the world premiere of the ATS Coupe.
Product development has not stopped either, with the new Elmiraj concept car pointing towards a big rear-drive coupe with as much as 500 hp and stunning lines. Stopping short of confirming the car for production Ferguson did say that, “We are constantly looking at ways we can build the Cadillac brand and the concept car Elmiraj is an example of that.”
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