The luxury vehicle market today shares a very important characteristic with the market for more mainstream models. While enthusiasts may prefer the cars, especially sporty, performance oriented models, crossovers are where the big money is at. For all the strategic issues that Ford’s upmarket Lincoln brand has had over the past couple of decades, they at least seem to have recognized this truism. Thus instead of a BMW and Cadillac-chasing rear drive sports sedan or coupe, we have the new MKX midsize crossover and frankly that’s not an entirely bad thing.
A day before the 2015 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford Motor Company executive chairman Bill Ford announced that the company bearing his family name would be partnering with Ganassi Racing to field four of its new GT supercars in the French enduro next year. Wall Street Journal auto critic Dan Neil wrote about this on the newspaper’s website on Sunday after the race. More interesting perhaps was what he wrote when he linked to his Journal piece on Facebook.
There he said that he felt the GT should be badged as a Lincoln rather than a Ford to help support the premium brand. I’d like to suggest a different strategy for what Ford might be thinking here. Full disclosure, when I left the Ford communications team in mid-2014, I was privy to some future product information which had not yet been revealed at the time including the Lincoln Continental, Ford GT, Focus RS and Shelby GT350. All of that information has now been publicly announced and what comes next is pure speculation on my part with no basis in fact.
Back in the spring of 2010 when Ford announced that it was finally going to euthanize its Mercury division, the company also announced a renewed commitment to restoring Lincoln to its former glory. Part of that included refreshing, redesigning and expanding the Lincoln lineup including a new C-segment model. At the time, most of us assumed we would get a production version of the 2009 Concept C, but four years later what we got instead was the 2015 MKC crossover.