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Auto blogFri, 18 Jan 2013 10:15:00 EST
There's no single silver bullet that will cure all that ails the Lincoln brand, and Ford knows that just as surely as we do. Coming out with exciting new models like the well-received MKC crossover counts as several steps in the right direction, assuming of course that the production version is as appealing as the concept just shown at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, but more is needed. According to Jim Farley, executive vice president of Lincoln, one more trick may be "mass customization."
Put another way, Lincoln is considering ways to allow buyers to customize their new vehicles right off the showroom floor, similar to how things are done at Mini, and, to a lesser extent, Scion, where Farley previously served as corporate manager. Imagine, for instance, ordering a new MKC with a large Lincoln insignia embossed into the leather seatbacks, according to Automotive News.
While we're not so sure anybody is all that interested in paying extra for more Lincoln logos, it's a strategy that has proven rather fruitful at Mini. Only time will tell if Ford's erstwhile luxury division will once again be seen as something truly worth reaching for, and if customers are willing to pay a further premium for customization.
Lincoln fans might want to give incoming Ford CEO Mark Fields a pat on the back for having a hand in saving the brand from the chopping block last year. He's among the people spearheading the rejuvenation of the division away from its stodgy image to appeal to younger customers.
According to two unnamed sources speaking to Bloomberg, CEO Alan Mulally was ready to kill Lincoln last year. Following the slow production ramp-up of the MKZ combined a with a costly ad campaign, Mulally was frustrated and openly suggested dropping the brand. However, Fields and Jim Farley, Ford's marketing boss, convinced the CEO that the brand was worth saving. They also created a plan to prevent similar problems for new models in the future.
It seems that one part of the strategy may involve waiting until new models are at dealers before starting a big ad campaign for them. Lincoln global director, Matt VanDyke, recently told Autoblog that the division is holding off on a full marketing push behind the new MKC crossover to prevent the supply problems that plagued the MKZ last year. Its big offensive begins in the fall when the CUVs are at all of the dealers and consumers are at home watching more TV. VanDyke also told Bloomberg that Fields, Farley and Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, have more direct oversight over new product launches now.
When Lincoln pulled the wraps off the MKC Concept at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, we said that the very attractive concept was going to closely mirror the production vehicle. With few exceptions, a clad prototype recently caught running on public roads seems to substantiate our statement.
From what the pictures reveal, the disguised Lincoln MKC production mule and show concept seem to share the same waistline with identical sculpting over the wheels. The midsection of the two also appear to match with the same flare and styling. The lower rockers have been cleaned up a bit, mainly to be more practical in the real world (the deep chisels on the show car would have collected mud and snow).
Taking a look at the exposed front bumper, we see a very similar lower fascia complete wtih the metal skid plate on the chin. The window profile also seems to match the concept, though we're still unclear exactly how that C- and D-pillar section is going to look. Of course, and it always seems to be the case when concepts evolve into production vehicles, the MKC gains four normal door handles, standard-sized mirrors and a slightly smaller wheel/tire package. We expect the production version of the Lincoln MKC to debut later this year.