Occasionally, auto industry experts ask why Ford has a luxury brand. Ford sold only 9,968 Lincoln vehicles in July. None of its models reached even 2,000 sales in the same period. Rival Mercedes sells about 25,000 a month. BMW and Lexus sales are around this figure. Lincoln also has to contend with Audi, Acura, Tesla and several brands with extremely high prices, led by Porsche.
Ford has another reason to ponder the future of Lincoln. Based on new research, it is the lowest rated luxury brand based on customer satisfaction.
For its recent “Automobile Study 2021/2022” study, the American Customer Satisfaction Index interviewed 4,708 people between July 2021 and June 2022. The primary yardsticks were comfort, dependability, driving performance, safety, quality of websites, technology and warranties.
Luxury brands had an average index score of 80. Lexus topped the list at 84. This should be expected, as Lexus and its parent Toyota generally do very well in this kind of survey. Lexus was followed by Honda’s luxury brand, Acura, which tied with Volkswagen’s Audi brand and Nissan’s Infiniti with index scores of 82.
Lincoln took a beating with a score of 75, the lowest of those reported upon.
Ford’s overall product quality was aggressively challenged recently in a Wall Street Journal article. In “At Ford, Quality Is Now Problem No. 1,” the author argued Ford could not soon fix its quality problems. The article quoted CEO Jim Farley: “We continue to be hampered by recalls and customer satisfaction actions.” At least Farley should get some credit for his candor.
Quality problems are not new to American manufacturers. For years, Japanese cars received better reliability scores. The perception was that they also could be driven longer. U.S. car companies closed that gap, but Ford is taking the perception of American cars in the wrong direction.
There is nothing wrong with a major manufacturer dropping out of the luxury car race. Given Lincoln’s quality rating, it is something Ford should do.
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