Dec. 3 - Ford is re-launching its Lincoln brand, hoping to erase memories of old Town Cars, with new energy-efficient tech-savvy luxury models and a nod to its more prestigious past. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The Lincoln brand is old. 90 years old. And had its sales peak two decades ago. But Ford is now trying to breathe new life into the brand best known for the Town Car it no longer makes. Staging a launch event at the aptly named Lincoln center, and using President Lincoln in its ads, Lincoln has decided to embrace its history, even revive the Lincoln Motor company name from when it was bought by Ford back in 1922. While the company has had great success with its Ford brand- focusing on Lincoln has been a long road- admits CEO Alan Mulally: SOUNDBITE: ALAN MULALLY, CEO, FORD MOTOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Six years ago we had a lot of luxury brands: Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover and Volvo, and we decided then, strategically, we are going to have a laser focus on the Ford brand and also for the luxury brand in Lincoln. So we have been investing in the technology, investing in the design." The target: younger and wealthier customers; hoping to lower the average age from 65 to 57. And raise the average income target more than 50 percent to more than $160,000 a year. Lincoln Motor Company's new global lead Jim Farley: SOUNDBITE: JIM FARLEY, GLOBAL LEAD, LINCOLN MOTOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We see about 25% of the market after the great recession as being very flexible about their brand. They are really looking for something new. Our customers- we call them progressive luxury customer. They really don't have a brand out there that really talks to them individually. What I mean by that is they are looking for more personalized service." REPORTER BRIDGE: BOBBI REBELL, REPORTER, REUTERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Lincoln isn't afraid to get creative to sell these cars. For example, they've got the Lincoln "date night" where if you take the car out for a test drive they will pay for your dinner. And if you buy one of these cars they really want to make you feel special. So for example you will get champagne or a personalized gift or even a night at the Ritz Carlton." Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff: SOUNDBITE: ROBERT PASSIKOFF, PRESIDENT, BRAND KEYS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The reality is that separating the brand from Ford is a good thing. It's the same kind of thing that Toyota did with Lexus when they wanted to leverage their luxury brand. And what you've got is a brand that has a heritage. It has a resonance in terms of luxury." But Lincoln sales were less than half the number sold by Lexus last year. Ford will launch seven new or revamped Lincoln starting with the MKZ which will be in dealerships by the end of this month.