Ford’s Lincoln division is in a state of flux. This storied luxury brand has been neglected for decades but executives in Dearborn are finally starting to give it some attention. But don’t expect any drastic styling changes as they work to reinvent this brand.
Moray Callum, vice president of design at Ford said, “I think we need to progress the design language as we have it today… and as any design language it will evolve.” When pressed for specifics he said that going forward, “I think you’ll see changes big and small.”
Product differentiation is a critical way of keeping the brand separate from its mass-market sibling. “When we separate more the Ford from the Lincoln we can really push the brand,” Callum said, adding “MKC is the next stage in that, and if you compare that to the Ford Escape for example they don’t resemble each other at all.” In fact key dimensions like width and height are different between these two crossovers.
But the big question on everyone’s mind is whether Lincoln will ever get any rear-wheel-drive cars. The brand-new 2015 Mustang seems like a no-brainer but not surprisingly Ford executives aren’t commenting on future product plans.
“We talk a lot about rear-wheel drive from a design perspective. What we actually really like is rear-wheel-drive proportions,” Callum noted. Continuing he said, “But it doesn’t necessarily need to be the rear-wheel drive that gives you that, you can work on all-drive technology to give you that kind of proportion.”
Front- and all-wheel-drive architectures generally run contrary to the established norms of the luxury segment where rear-drive is key. However, Audi is a perfect example of the successful implementation of this strategy. The German luxury brand shares all kinds of platforms and technology with lesser Volkswagens but most customers are probably unaware of this fact.
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Being refreshingly candid Callum said, “We’ve not been shy from saying Lincoln is a work in progress.” Products like the MKZ sedan, which launched about a year ago as well as the brand-new MKC small crossover vehicle are rebuilding the foundation of this division. “So really, it just shows that we are putting the effort into Lincoln to really produce a premium brand and differentiate it from Ford,” Callum said.
Lincoln has to receive attention and serous amounts of money if it’s ever going succeed again. But going forward it appears to have support from the very top. Mark Fields, the company’s CEO-to-be said Lincoln is “a very important part of our future.” He also has “high hopes for Lincoln going forward.”
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