Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand will be placing a larger emphasis on SUVs and crossovers as time marches on, Ford President of Global Markets Jim Farley says – a shift made necessary by luxury auto customers’ changing tastes. He says that in both the US and China, where The Lincoln Motor Company does the vast majority of its business, the premium market has crossed the 50 percent mark for utility sales.
“We decided to really reorient the brand around utilities,” Farley told reporters at the New York International Auto Show, standing before the brand’s new Lincoln Aviator concept. “Navigator has been such a hit,” making it the right move for the time, he said.
Asked whether the new Lincoln Aviator might become the brand’s best-selling contemporary vehicle, Farley said: “Could be. We’ll see.”
At present, the best-selling vehicle in Lincoln’s lineup is the mid-size MKX crossover, which shares its bones with the Ford Edge. That model, refreshed and renamed “Nautilus” for the 2019 model year, will slot in below the Aviator in the product range, while the Aviator will replace the MKT. That model sold a paltry 260 units through the first two months of 2018 – down more than 50 percent from the same period last year.
But there’s no good reason why a full-size Lincoln crossover can’t perform better in the showroom, and with the new Aviator, the brand is hoping for a complete do-over. Farley told reporters that the new concept has a “different ambiance than you’ll find in other luxury brands,” and superb fit and finish as a result of Lincoln “over-indexing the interior.”
We suspect that could be code for: “We benchmarked the interior against Mercedes-Benz and Bentley.”
Granted, moving toward production will undoubtedly produce a few casualties. Soft-touch plastic will likely replace some share of the concept’s rich leather, and certain metal pieces will probably be replaced with painted plastic. But so long as Lincoln is setting its sights high with the all-new, rear-wheel-drive Aviator, it could handily outsell the brand’s gangbusters Navigator.