Ford has been notable since 2009 for being the only American auto company that did not go through an adjusted bankruptcy. While this can be attributed to quite a few other factors, the effect has been clear–Ford’s been putting out some seriously cool stuff lately and has been financially stable for the past few quarters. I’ve driven the Focus, the Fiesta, the Fusion Hybrid, and the 2011 Mustang V6, and all of them have quite a lot going for them. They all score high on value, comfort, and each one has a bright spot for the enthusiast.
I could go on dumping praise onto Ford, but I don’t need to because their products speak for themselves. Also, most ex-Mercury customers have defected back to Ford, which gives Alan Mulally and Co. all the more reason to be proud. However, Lincoln has been floundering for much longer than anyone could have imagined, and on paper, Ford seems to be doing very little to fix the issue.
Until recently, Ford has been surprisingly quiet on Lincoln’s future, with its sales sinking faster than the Titanic. This deeply worries me, as Lincoln has quite a history in the United States, but like Cadillac, has had trouble outside of North America. Lincoln is now competing on a world market stage, and on that subject has nothing to show for it–their cars are reskinned Fords and their trucks and crossovers get completely eclipsed by Cadillac and the German imports. So, what can Ford do?
Ford announced that Lincoln will be repositioned to produce premium small cars, which I think could either work out great, or be a horrifying mistake. If it works the way it could, Ford could possibly use Lincoln to bring over European platforms that would be otherwise too expensive for the Blue Oval badge. But, my fear is that Ford will continue down the path they’re on, which translates to rebadging Focuses and Fusions. That does not give me much hope–if Ford wants to fix Lincoln, then they have to dive right into it instead of making a meek announcement about repositioning the brand and giving it some small cars.
Bottom line: Ford can either fix Lincoln and make it competitive, as they have with their main product line, or let the market do its work and put the brand out to pasture. In fact, considering how successful Ford has been lately, the second option could indeed be viable.