Saving Lincoln is paying off. Big time.
It wasn't that long ago that Ford's luxury brand was nearly on its deathbed. Like now-defunct Mercury, Lincoln lacked a clear brand identity and relying on Town Car livery sales was not enough to prop up the rest of the bland lineup. The Lincoln Navigator, once a hot-seller that forced GM to rapidly respond with the badge-engineered first-generation Cadillac Escalade, was in desperate need of a complete redesign. Today, the situation is very different.
As we previously reported, Ford's overall 2019 sales dropped by 3 percent compared to 2018 despite the fact F-Series pickup truck sales retained its "Best-Selling Vehicle" status for the 43rd straight year. Lincoln, however, performed phenomenally well. Not only was Lincoln's fourth-quarter sales up by 17.8 percent but its entire year sales increased by an impressive 8.4 percent. What were its best-selling vehicles?
The Lincoln Nautilus (31,711 units sold), Corsair (25,815), and the Navigator (18,656). The all-new Lincoln Aviator also chipped in with 8,323 units sold, which is pretty impressive given it only went on sale in late 2019 despite some troubling production delays and quality control issues. Lincoln's decision to focus heavily on SUVs and crossovers is clearly paying off.
On the downside, the brand's sedan sales are not looking so good. Sales of the Lincoln MKZ dropped by 10.7 percent while the full-size Continental saw a troubling 24.8 percent decrease. There was, however, a surprise (non-sedan) success: the MKT.
One of the most polarizing models in recent years from any automaker, the funky-looking, three-row Lincoln MKT shares its underpinnings with the now discontinued Ford Flex.
However, the MKT doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Its sales increased by 45.8 percent because of one likely reason: the livery market. With the Lincoln Town Car long gone, the MKT has taken its place. The lucrative livery market is not something Ford and Lincoln would be willing to abandon unless there was a direct replacement vehicle.
So far, that vehicle does not exist. With Lincoln's transition to a nearly all-SUV lineup nearly complete, this new product overhaul will almost certainly lead to even better 2020 sales.