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Mark Phelan: Lincoln's remaining sedans are doomed — but a new model could help brand

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

What does Ford Motor Co.'s decision to stop selling sedans in the United States mean to Lincoln's cars?

Nothing good. But, honestly, does it matter?

You -- and Ford -- might be surprised.

It's easy to make the case against Lincoln's cars. It sells just two -- the midsize MKZ and large Continental. Neither is a leader in its segment, and neither is likely to earn much, if any, profit. They account for just 23.3% of Lincoln's sales so far this year, down from 27.6% in 2018.

Both cars are doomed. The MKZ, built alongside the Ford Fusion in Hermosillo, Mexico, is likely to go out of production in late 2020 or early 2021. The Continental's survival is guaranteed only "through its product lifecycle," according to Ford's new contract with the UAW.

That's a less mercenary way of saying Ford will keep building them till the last check clears, but the end is nigh, and don't expect any significant investment in new technology or features between now and when the last shift punches out.

 

If you want a new Continental -- and you may because it's not a bad car: roomy, comfortable, handsome in a vaguely upscale way -- I wouldn't wait for the 2024 model.

"Lincoln's sedans are going away," IHS Markit senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said.

At the same time, Lincoln is adding SUVs. They sell for better prices than sedans, particularly for traditional American brands like Lincoln.

Lincoln is following in the Ford brand's footsteps, as tends to happen in corporations where the volume brand rules. Ford decided to quit selling cars like the Taurus, Fusion and Focus because they mean even less to the brand than Lincoln's sedans. Cars are just 15.3% of Ford-brand 2019 sales, down from 19.1% for 2018.

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