Will Ford make the right decision?
Here's what we know: the Lincoln MKZ is due to be discontinued later this year and no direct successor is planned. Meanwhile, the larger Lincoln Continental is due to stick around until 2022. Neither sedan is a big seller. Last year, a total of 17,725 MKZs were sold in the US, an 11 percent drop from the year prior. Only 6,586 Continentals sold in 2019, a troubling 25 percent drop from 2018. Lincoln's strong point has been and continues to be crossovers. The Lincoln Nautilus, for example, sold 31,711 examples last year.
But here's the thing: Lincoln sedan sales still account for a third of the brand's total business. The fact that Lincoln's parent company Ford aims to make the brand crossover and SUV-only isn't sitting well with dealerships, which is totally understandable.
Speaking to Automotive News, the chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council, Tom Lynch, made a strong case for keep Lincoln sedans alive.
"You only have to look at Tesla. If you have a strong product, people are going to want it, and they're going to want to buy it. What that looks like for Lincoln going forward, I'm not sure of." Lynch is referring to, the Tesla Model S and Model 3. "The sedan business is still a third of the business," he added. "If we're not in segments where there still is a good amount of business, I think the company and the dealers lose out. So for all those reasons, the council still feels like we need to be in the sedan business."
Listening to dealerships is an essential part of the business and Lincoln would be wise to do so in this case.
While crossovers and SUVs continue to be wildly popular, they're not for everyone. And besides, a cool sedan with the right styling and options could be quite successful. The MKZ and Continental, by contrast, are a bit more towards the traditional side, particularly the latter.
But say if Lincoln were to do a Tesla Model S or Model 3 fighter. Would a slick, all-electric fastback sedan do the trick? It's certainly possible and Ford's investment with Rivian could again prove fruitful. Lincoln is already slated to receive a new SUV EV riding on Rivian's skateboard setup. Could this platform be adapted for a sedan as well? Or, perhaps, could the new Ford Mustang Mach-E and its architecture do the trick? The resources are there, Lincoln dealerships will be likely be satisfied, and customers will be thrilled.
It's a true win-win-win possibility.