Founded in 1917 by a former Cadillac manager and owned by Ford since 1922, Lincoln was once regarded as a key rival to not only Cadillac but also a number of other premium brands that have faded into obscurity over the past century.
This new century has not been kind to Lincoln however, with the brand unable to achieve a sales lead on Cadillac since 2000.
Lincoln’s fortunes may be about to change, however, with reports out of the US suggesting that Ford is preparing to pour a huge US$5 billion (AU$5.7 billion) into the brand.
According to business paper Reuters, new Ford CEO Mark Fields has secured the backing of Executive Chairman Bill Ford, launching a multi-year investment in new models, including an a new premium architecture specifically for the Lincoln brand.
The new ‘D6’ platform will reportedly be capable of accommodating rear-, front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, along with a range of powertrain designs and capacities.
Fields’ new plan marks a significant difference in perspective to former CEO Alan Mulally, who had reportedly considered selling or closing the brand rather than committing to a major investment.
Mulally hardly left the brand out to dry, however, approving a US$2 billion spend over the past two years, which brought a styling makeover and new or updated models such as the MKC SUV, the MKZ sedan and the facelifted Navigator.
With this new injection, Ford reportedly plans to take Lincoln right to the top of the premium ladder, taking on not only Cadillac and Lexus but also BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
While the report’s sources remain unnamed, Reuters quotes Fields as saying: "It's really important for us to have a relevant and vibrant luxury brand. You need to make the investment and build this brand over time."
In the short term, Ford hopes to boost Lincoln’s global sales to 300,000 by 2020 - up from 81,694 in 2014 and better even than its record 187,121 sales in 1998.
For now, the brand is offered in North America, along with parts of the Middle East, South Korea and a number of US territories overseas.
Ford intends to launch the brand in China later this year, where it expects its latest models - and those to be developed over the coming years - to make Lincoln a strong player in the premium market.
The Lincoln brand is not expected to come to Australian anytime soon, although this investment could see Ford expand further south than previously planned.
It is known that Ford Australia has been involved in engineering and testing of the next-generation MKS large sedan, but there is no hint yet of a local launch.
At this point, Australian fans of American premium marques would better invest their hopes in a local Cadillac launch, although that too remains unconfirmed.
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