Bloomberg News

Ford Expands Detroit Show’s Lincoln Stand to Lure Younger Buyers

January 04, 2012

Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.’s lagging Lincoln line will unveil a new car and a new display stand at this month’s Detroit auto show aimed at attracting younger buyers to reverse the luxury brand’s two-decade decline.

The Lincoln display will cover 17,752 square feet (1,649 square meters) of floor space, 50 percent more than last year, at the North American International Auto Show at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, Joe O’Connor, manager of the stand, said today. The stand has an art gallery motif and will feature two flexing spheres overhead by artist Chuck Hoberman. Ford declined to disclose the stand’s cost.

Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally is attempting to revive Lincoln, which has seen sales plunge by almost two-thirds from its 1990 peak and dropped 0.7 percent through November last year while industrywide sales gained 10 percent. On Jan. 10 at its new stand, Lincoln will introduce a prototype of a redesign for its MKZ mid-sized sedan, its top-selling model.

“We want to sell more vehicles to more customers for Lincoln, so we want to expand our customer base,” O’Connor told reporters on a tour of the new stand. “We created a stand that not only is a larger show stand, but it’s really devised to bring a whole new customer into Lincoln.”

The stand, which features granite floors, is set off by a 220-foot-wide (67 meters) white wall that is a latticework of Lincoln logos. Two doormen will greet visitors as part of a 50- person staff at the display, 70 percent more than last year, O’Connor said. The staff will explain the 10 cars on the stand and artwork featured in glass boxes known as vitrines, he said.

MKZ Prototype

The MKZ concept car will be center stage, on an angled axis before an LED wall. Two private rooms flanking the stage will be used to demonstrate Lincoln’s driving technology and stereo system, O’Connor said. Leather couches and “premium beverages” will be provided to potential Lincoln customers, who can also schedule test drives with their local dealer, Ford said in a statement.

“There’s absolutely a want and a need to get younger” Lincoln buyers, said Sam Locricchio, a spokesman for the luxury line. “There is a younger, affluent audience, we call them progressive luxury customers, and those progressive luxury customers are not married to traditional nameplates.”

Lincoln’s current buyers are in their 60s and the company would like to drop that into the 50s or lower, Locricchio said.

The brand’s U.S. sales peaked at 231,660 vehicles in 1990, according to Autodata Corp. Lincoln U.S. sales totaled 77,240 vehicles in 2011’s first 11 months.

Ford and other automakers will introduce new models during media preview days at the Detroit show Jan. 9 and Jan. 10. The show opens to the public Jan. 14.

--Editors: Bill Koenig, John Lear

To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Detroit, Michigan, at knaughton3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net


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