Lincoln’s Weak Brand Launches New SUV Into an Overcrowded Market

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Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Lincoln luxury brand has launched a new midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) into an already crowded market. Granted, sales in this segment of the auto industry have been strong. However, Lincoln is late and sales of its new models rely on a crippled brand.

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus has almost nothing that more successful luxury car brands don’t have on similar vehicles. Lincoln’s primary promotion of the SUV is based on the fact that it has Lincoln’s “signature grill,” which does not seem to have helped sales of its other models. Its seats are supposedly comfortable, adjustable 22 ways, leather trimmed, heated and ventilated. These are features almost every other luxury SUV already has. The Nautilus has wireless charging for smartphones. And among its most prosaic features:

As part of available Adaptive Cruise Control technology, Lane Centering monitors road lane markings and uses the steering system and instrument display to alert you when you’ve unintentionally drifted out of your lane.

Even many nonluxury cars have the same features.

The Nautilus is available with a 13- or 19-speaker Revel sound system, presumably at an additional price. And, finally, the Nautilus has lots of cargo space.

Lincoln’s U.S. sales continue to be behind those of Cadillac, Audi, Lexus, Mercedes and BMW. Lincoln’s volume is not even close to the German and Japanese makers. It has been an “also ran” in the category for years.

Lincoln’s U.S. sales through the first 10 months were 91,631, up 2.4% year over year. Sales in October were 8,909, down 1.8%. Its only model with an impressive sales history is the Continental, a large four-door sedan

Lincoln can bring more and more new models to market. The evidence is that few people want them. Will the Nautilus bring a surge of new buyers into Lincoln dealers and boost the brand’s sales numbers? Almost certainly not.