Mark Fields, the new CEO of Ford Motor Company, is prepared to invest $5 billion dollars to rescue the ailing Lincoln brand. The goal is to triple Lincoln’s annual sales from today’s anemic 100,000 units to 300,000 units by 2020. But doing so will take far more than slapping a Lincoln badge on the back of existing Ford brands like the Mustang, Edge or Flex and calling it a day. It will take some effort from Lincoln to build excitement among its existing customer base, small as it is. At this year’s Chicago Auto Show, no one from Lincoln even bothered to make the trip over from Detroit to commune with the faithful.
Insider Car News reports the heart of the Field’s initiative is a new modular rear wheel drive chassis known internally as the D6 platform. Fields apparently believes bringing back rear wheel drive is just what Lincoln needs to take on Mercedes Benz and BMW in the uber-sedan market.
Lincoln has a long and proud heritage as a purveyor of fine motorcars going back to the 1930’s. But it has been little more than an afterthought in the American marketplace for at least a decade. Outgoing CEO Alan Mullaly was ready to kill the Lincoln brand completely, according to reports. Lincoln’s last attempt at a bold idea was wrapping a Ford F-150 in about a square mile of leather and calling it the Mk LT. It was the perfect vehicle if you needed to stop at Home Depot for a box of nails on the way to the opera while dressed in a tuxedo. Lincoln sold dozens of the things, some of which will probably end up in museums for their curiosity value.
Over the years, lots of manufacturers have announced their intention to take on Mercedes and BMW head to head. Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac are a few that come to mind. Even Mercedes tried to out-do itself with its ultra-upscale Maybach brand. But when the road test results are in and the sales figures are tabulated, the traditional German brands always come out on top.
Field’s Folly is sending snickers through the boardrooms of car makers around the globe. Some suggest that Mullaly was right to consider closing down the division and that this new initiative will only postpone the time when Lincoln follows the likes of Plymouth, Pontiac and Oldsmobile into automotive oblivion.
Source | Photos: Insider Car News.