The odd-looking three-row crossover actually serves a purpose, but for whom?
Back in 2010 Lincoln launched the MKT large crossover to serve as a replacement for the recently retired Town Car sedan. A heavily re-skinned Ford Flex, the MKT offers three rows of seats with seating up to seven. It’s never been a strong seller, mainly due to its unusual exterior design. However, the MKT has sold quite well in two particular market segments: livery services and funeral hearses.
Its planned successor, the upcoming Aviator, likely won’t have the same appeal for livery companies. At the same time, Lincoln earns a nice profit off those fleet sales, so what to do? According to Automotive News, the Lincoln MKT will continue to stick around for the foreseeable future in order to cater to fleet buyers.
The luxury brand’s marketing manager, Robert Parker, confirmed this information to the publication. Lincoln has been experiencing a solid revival thanks to strong sales of its crossovers and the recently redesigned Navigator. The upcoming Aviator is expected to be a strong seller as well. And because of that, the brand does not want to see it either too heavily discounted or, even worse, sitting on rental lots. That’s the MKT’s continued task.
“MKT can fill that role profitably for the company and will for the time being,” Parker said. “We don’t think it negatively impacts the brand.” Despite those words of encouragement, the MKT has already been replaced by the Aviator on Lincoln’s media website.
Unlike the rest of the lineup, the MKT still sports the old styling language, which didn't have too many fans. What’s ultimately clear is that aside from livery service companies, the general buying public will not miss the MKT. The sales figures prove this. Lincoln claims it sold 1,653 units in the US through last month, a 22 percent drop from the previous August. The big crossover was already Lincoln’s slowest-selling model. But aside from rental company sales, why hasn’t Lincoln decided to modify the Navigator or even the upcoming Aviator for livery duties?
Because the investment for the MKT has been earned back. Why would Lincoln want to retire a vehicle, even though it's a niche vehicle when it’s churning a reliable profit? “It has a place,” Parker added. “Just like a long snapper on a football team. Nobody knows their name, or cares, but if he screws up a snap, it’s a bad day.”