Lincoln Suffers Crippling Loss of Sales in January

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Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) has promised that its luxury car operation, the Lincoln Motor Company, eventually would rebound to a level where it is a global competitor in the high end of the market. While it has done well, particularly, in China, in its home market it posted remarkably poor sales in January, off 27% to 6,410. If not for a surge in sales of its new Navigator super sport utility vehicle (SUV), which almost doubled, the numbers would have been much worse.

Sales of the new Navigator, which Lincoln has heavily promoted, rose 98% to 1,288. It has a base price of $72,005.  With the host of extra features available on the SUV, that price can reach $100,000.

Lincoln’s flagship, the Continental, posted a sales drop of 30% to 815. That means Lincoln sold only 26 Continental vehicles per day across the country in January.

Sales of the MKZ sedan and MKC, MKX and MKT SUVs all dropped. The SUV segment is one of the few that is growing in America as total U.S. car sales flatten.

Lincoln’s sales decline contrasts with strong sales among its German rivals, which are the companies it must beat to pick up market share. While Mercedes sales for January were down 0.3% to 27,498, BMW sales were higher by 5.0% to 19,016 and Audi sales rose 9.9% to 14,511. Even niche brand Porsche sold nearly as many vehicles in January as Lincoln did. Its sales were up 4.7% to 4,816.

Kumar Galhotra leads the Lincoln Motor Company for Ford. He has to be particularly disappointed in the U.S. results. Lincoln’s SUV and crossover based strategy has faltered in America. The size of its model line makes competition with its larger luxury rivals more difficult. The brand may sell well under 100,000 units in the United States this year.

Whatever recovery Ford management had hoped for in its home market seems less and less likely as time passes.