Lincoln Motor Company’s US Sales Collapse

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In late 2012, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) created the Lincoln Motor Company as a means to make the manufacturer’s luxury division more independent so it could move its product mix and marketing in a direction that would make it a major force in the sector again. The conceit did not work. Lincoln’s U.S. sales are as bad as they have ever been.

Those sales fell 23% year over year in February and are down 25% for the first two months of the year. The sales of all its models but one declined, and most fell sharply. Very few luxury car buyers want a Lincoln.

In February, Lincoln sold 6,700 vehicles, and for the first two months a total of 13,110. The only vehicle that did well is its niche mega sport utility vehicle, the Navigator, which was recently redesigned. Navigator sales were up 13% in February to 1,063, which barely made a dent in the total number. Ford says the demand for the SUV is great enough that it needs to improve production.

The results of Lincoln’s flagship Continental were particularly telling. Lincoln has resurrected the car, but sales dwindled 30% in February to a tiny 758 units.

Lincoln’s sales across its SUVs, crossovers and sedans were so poor that only a relaunch of each one, like the one for Navigator, is likely to help sales — if they can be helped at all. Sales of Lincoln’s two entry-level vehicles were particularly poor. For the MKZ sedan, which has a base price of $35,605, sales fell 34% to 1,380. The crossover MKC, with a base price of $35,605, saw sales drop 21% to 2,550.

Ford management would make the case that Lincoln does well in China, the world’s largest car market. In 2017, its sales there rose 66% to 54,124. But the United States will continue to be a sore spot for one of America’s oldest large companies.

The best way to point out Lincoln’s U.S. problem is to compare its sales to the two largest German imports. In February, Mercedes sales rose 2.8% to 27,788. BMW sales for the month rose 4.2% to 23,508. Lincoln is not even in the ballpark.