Last December Ford Motor Company sold its Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo and Aston Martin brands and made Lincoln Motor Company the sole focus of its luxury car efforts. The 2013 Lincoln MKZ is the culmination of those efforts which have not been without their setbacks.
The much-touted launch of the MKZ has been plagued by delays but the automaker says there are finally about 10,000 of the flagship models in dealer showrooms across the country.
Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln Motor Company Jim Farley says, “People like the car, and it’s bringing in new customers”, but getting prospective buyers into showrooms is just the first step. Ford and its dealers have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reposition Lincoln to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
Rebel Three Media analyst Rebecca Lindland thinks Lincoln is off to a good start despite the glitches it encountered during the re-launch. “There’s promise and potential” says Lindland. “The question is whether Lincoln can execute”
A big part of that potential is the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid model which gets an impressive EPA estimated 45 mpg.
Marketing consultant Gordon Wagners says, “The hybrid’s a real winner. It says a lot about technology and what’s new about Lincoln. They need to demonstrate the hybrid everywhere and all the time. That needs to be the statement the brand makes to customers and the media.”
Unfortunately, Ford underestimated the demand for the hybrid model and customers who placed orders as far back as last October are just now taking delivery.
The Detroit Free Press recently quoted an unidentified Lincoln dealership executive who said, “It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. That’s the No. 1 lesson of the MKZ. You should have thousands of cars at the dealerships before you start advertising.”
In addition to the delay, some customers have expressed frustration over Lincoln’s failure to keep them informed as they’ve waited to take delivery of their new MKZs.
Farley has acknowledged Lincoln’s failure in the area of communications. He says, “Our dealer council is asking us to improve. They say, ‘Just tell us what’s going on.’” He quickly added, “We have learned a lot about how to prepare for the second new product.”