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Lincoln Zephyr, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKX
#459 of 4409 Mr. Leet's Lincoln
Aug 02, 2006 (7:12 am)
Kenneth Leet, an 18 year veteran of Goldman-Sachs Mergers & Aqusitions branch in London had been brought into Ford Motor with the support of Board Members Robert E. Rubin and John E. Thornton. Mr. Leet's new office will be down the hall from Mr. Ford at the Glass House, allowing Mr. Leet will report directly to Mr. Ford. The announcement of this move expected today (08-2-06), and a harbinger of things to come.
According to the WSJ, Mr Leet will put all options on the table for the Ford Motor Board. The 50 members of the 'Way Forward' Planning committee will be bypassed, or consulted indirectly, in this latest revision to Ford's plan for a return to profitability in North America. Ford lost its #2 position in July to Toyota: 239,969 sales (16.1% share) to Toyo's 241,826 (16.2% share) of the market. Ford Motor having declined 14.3% over 2005, while Toyota gained 11.7% in sales---allowing for the switch in fortunes. Perhaps the cloisene in the Ford badge should be changed to red.
Will Ford merge with Fiat, a company planning to return to America with Alfa-Romeo? Will Mr. Leet put the "Cat" on the auction block---selling off Jaguar & Astons (whose fates are interlinked)---either to GM, Toyota, VWAG, or even Honda or Hyundai? Will the esteemed Mr. Leet put Ford Motor Credit up for sale, as Hertz was spun-off like Visteon before it? October 1, 2006 will tell, when the latest version of Ford Motor's plans for profitability: Way Forward II, is unveiled.
Mr. Fields will be forced to play second fiddle to Mr. Leet's new score. With PAG having lost money in Q2 vis a vis 2005, (losing $835 a car), Mr. Fields former bailiwick will now seem to act as an anchor around his ankles, and perhaps his fortunes---Mr. Leet will surely listen to what the North American Operations President has to say, but realise that Ford must return to its core business to beat the competition---leaving Mr. Fields in left field. The "King" will listen now to a new ear.
Like a rapier cutting through the winds of change, with Jaguar/Astons cut loose, Ford will have little choice but to lavish what cash it realised from Jaguar's sale on Lincoln---the pendulum coming back full swing. The success of Zephyr proving the brand is not dead (yet), and also must challenge the new advertising campaign at Cadillac and BMW for market position. Why any new Lincoln ought to be called "Stilletto"---for it must cut through the buyers minds and the market-place the garner attention and sales. What Mark S(tilletto) could surely stand for...all borrowing aluminum technology Ford has learned at Astons/Jaguar.
Perhaps Mr. Leet will see, that Lincoln might still be saved on the cusp of all that was learned across the pond, and made to challenge Audi and BMW, and edge out Lexus and Cadillac. The bells are tolling for Lincoln...but now its Mr. Leet's Line that will tell.
(Sources: WSJ, Automotive News, London Times)
#460 of 4409 Re: Lincoln & The Future/2008 [douglasr]
Aug 02, 2006 (7:39 am)
Wow, Lincoln-Mercury's sales volume was down 35% over the last year. That's with Zephyr, Milan and Montego (forgot that one, didn't ya'?)
Ford needs to pawn it's usless jewelry. Keep Volvo and Mazda and run like hell from the British Isles.
#461 of 4409 Re: Mr. Leet's Lincoln [douglasr]
Aug 02, 2006 (9:20 am)
In your opinion, why not replace the Town Car with the Jaguar XJ8 giving potential buyers a big change in style and a more numerous dealer network?
The continuing education of dealer techs would cost less than taking a big loss on selling the Jaguar assets.
#462 of 4409 Re: Mr. Leet's Lincoln [euphonium]
Aug 02, 2006 (10:52 am)
IMO a big selling point to traditional retail Town Car buyers is that it is a domestic product. I don't know if replacing it with an import of much different qualities (and price) would succeed.
#463 of 4409 The Lincoln Town Car...
Aug 03, 2006 (4:07 am)
...is old-fashioned and out-dated, but it's dependable. I'd purchase a Town Car long before anything based on Jaguar. At least I could count on a Town Car getting me to and from work. Ford would be super-stupid to try that strategy. Why don't they simply follow the example set by Cadillac?
#464 of 4409 Re: The Lincoln Town Car... [lemko]
Aug 03, 2006 (4:40 am)
If the current decision makers at Lincoln (and Jaguar) had any clue, Lincoln (and Jaguar) wouldn't be in their worlds of hurt. The big Jaguar sedan is now reliable and well-engineered. But what a boring body! It is as if the Ford influence said, "let's do a careful, timid update and run it by the focus groups," and then, well, there you go. Might as well have stayed with the old body and saved the money...like Ford shortsightedly has been doing for years. Changing the front, rear and interior on the same body is about as effective in generating sales, as Jaguar doing a total restyle no one notices.
#465 of 4409 Lincoln vs. The World/&Jaguar/Astons
Aug 04, 2006 (7:05 am)
Ian Robertson, CEO of Rolls-Royce admitted in a recent interview that he had wished that they had taken an even bolder course with R-R than the original Djordjevic/Cameron design. At the very least the controversial design gets talked about and noticed, and the big Phantom still has 'prescence' and pride-of-place, Rolls-Royce having decimated Maybach in the sales game, outselling its rival three to one world-wide since 2003. Mr. Callum, who has done so much to revitalise Jaguar, agreed that they had been preceisely that: "too timid" in their initial designs just prior to the new XK. People didn't notice the new cars, and thought they were merely the same olds ones...including the bad reputation that went along with older Jaguars. A former owner of one of the 'bad' Jaguars commented after switching to Mercedes: "They made it boring...and then there's all those cheap ones..." after she looked at the Jaguars, and off the Benz she went. My friend, a rather prominent individual in her career who spends her days working at the White House, also told me that: "I'd...never consider a Lincoln...". Too stodgy and old hat.
QED. Mr. Leet has his work cut out for him, whilst being not too careful to step on Mr. Fields toes too harshly. "There are no new plans to divest our brands or invest in a new alliance" Ford spokesperson Thomas Hoyt commented in an interview by WSJ staffwriter Jeffrey McCracken (08-03-06). IN a lengthy article about the fate of Ford Motor it is made very clear that plans are indeed affoot to look at everything---all aspects of the business---and that nothing is sacrosanct. VWAG, BMW AG, and Toyota or Honda might well consider a phased buy-out of Jaguar/Astons. Leaving Lincoln alone to hold the challice at the high end of the market at Ford Motor.
Clearly, Mr. Horbury's job just got a lot tougher. And Mr. Callum at Jaguars is going to have to defend his turf from expropriation or sale---one can imagine him going with the ship, if it leaves the Blue Oval. The realities remain that car dealerships for Lexus now spend as much for a showroom building as Rolls-Royce spent to build their Goodwood factory. Lincoln would have a long way to go to come back to the top of the cake. Lincoln & Land Rover would have to paired at some dealerships if Jaguars were sold off. One can only imagine the heartburn of Jaguar dealers who invested heavily betting on 200K volumes from Jaguar/Astons only to see it crash from 114K sales last year in 2005 to less than 41K sales this year. PAG will not make a profit for Ford Motor this year per their revised earnings statement---having lost an addition $100Mn plus, owing to pension liabilities. Mr. Field's former bailiwick shrinking, and may prove to be his liability as well. Mr. Leet will not waste a moment in pointing out that fact to William C. Ford Jr.
Now we see that it would not be until 2010 that a new challenger from Lincoln could be made ready. Zephry/MKS will have to squeak by along with the median Town Car replacement from Chicago. It would be no surprise either that in failing to grasp a deal with GM, Mr. Ghosn plays the Ford Card and the next Lincoln is based from a Nissan!!!If Mr. Horbury either is faced with having to remake a Volvo or what-have-you into a Lincoln, he can't afford to make the mistake that Jaguars had: being too timid. Seems now that a radical solution is the only card left in the deck for Lincoln. Seems now that the fate of Lincoln truly is in the hands of the designers---not unlike the 1952 Model Year and 1961 all over again---why the Mark S seemingly was so important to Mr. Horbury to present to the public as soon as possible.
(Sources: WSJ, Ford Motor Company, Rolls-Royce MotorCars Ltd, Automtive News, Edmunds Online, Car Design News)
#466 of 4409 Re: Lincoln vs. The World/&Jaguar/Astons [douglasr]
Aug 04, 2006 (9:42 am)
Too bad the Mark S (now MKS) is also timid, and little short of boring. It is neither a standout, nor a polarizing design, like 300 or CTS. It will do ok, like the MKZ will do ok. Lincoln and Ford need more than ok now. The latest recall, the competition, the recent spelling out of new models through 2010--with absolutely no surprises--are all conspiring to sink the management and then the company.
Why anyone ever thought Bill Ford was the best choice after dumping Jac Nasser is beyond me. And all the changes made since 2000 only confirm that previous management was on a more rational course than the unimaginative bores in management and on the board now.
#467 of 4409 Lincoln & Bill Ford
Aug 04, 2006 (4:35 pm)
...Bill Ford was brought in as CEO coupled with Mr. Nasser until WCF Jr. thought he could handle the job. Mr. Nasser's direct style eventually clashed with Bill Ford's more relaxed Gross Point verve. Nasser had the right idea: expanding Ford's reach to pass GM in the future. Had Ford maintained its position, it would have become America's leading producer---regaining its number one position. Nasser rubbed Bill the wrong way, and he was gone. Ford has lost 25% of its business since then.
One would surmise that the Firestone Tyre disaster tilted public opinion against Ford, because they did not own up to their engineering failure and passed some of the blame to Firestone. Both parties were at fault. People would not subsequently give them first choice as a result, and they have lost market share at an alarming rate since then.
One can't blame the Ford Family for wanting one of their own in the CEO's seat after the retirement of the very able Alex Troutman. Today, it is easy for those in the armchairs to think that Edsel II should have taken the reigns, rather than William C. But William Sr. pulled sway, and he could not help but put his son in the driver seat. We can't blame Mr. William Clay Ford Sr. for that---he would be less honorable for anything less than supporting his son. But that WCF Jr. has had bad council, advice, and luck, has been borne out by events.
And now the whole fate of Ford Motor is now tied to Lincoln, and there can be no doubt about that. Whether Jaguar stays or goes plays a great weight upon what happens at Lincoln. It is only too bad that no champion other than MR. Horbury exists now for Lincoln.
Mr. Leet may never have had any experience with Lincoln, nor any of the other storied cars from Ford Motor, having been in London for 18 years. But now men who have no feality to the marque have its fate in their hands, and a great part of their history. Great men build great designs, whether they be cars, buildings, aero-craft, or what-have-you. And that is what Ford Motor needs now. Just a few Great Men.
#468 of 4409 Lincoln & Why Love is never enough! It takes Gutz
Aug 06, 2006 (12:48 pm)
"When Jaguar introduced the E type back in 1961...the whole world's jaw dropped...since then there had not been one--not one--Jaguar model where you've instinctively said: 'I gotta have one..." FT columnist John Griffiths quotes a former Jaguar owner. Griffiths makes the argument that regardless of the billions Ford Motor spent to save the Big Cat, the buyers have no love for the new products: "I'd just love to lust after one again..." Being middling and lackluster despite improvments in build quality, performance, handling, among other reasons Mr. Callum's Jaguar is now on the chopping block.
Ian Callum needs 18 months before the new small Jaguar is announced: pushing Jaguar into the direction that BMW has already gone, and in-point-of-fact, where Rolls-Royce hasn't failed to tread: avant-guard and daring style evoqative of both the a new future while heeding the past---all without being dowdy. Dowdiness is what has killed Jaguar. They might drive fabulous, and they do, but in 2001/2 when the first impact of the Ford Motor investment was being felt, they lacked verve. That is what Mr. Callum, and for that part Mr. Horbury, must put back into Jaguar and Lincoln.
Where the design and performance of the vehicle crosses the rational bounds and demands purchase. For that one needs, to paraphrase Mr. Lutz, I would call it: "Gutz" and Daring-do. The looks must get the driver past the threshold of the forecourt, and the baying and swaying of the salespeople, where the performance yeilds the expected surprise. For Jaguar it is one thing, but for Lincoln: it would be hard road to get previous BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus drivers to even look at a Lincoln.
Bringing in a finance guy will not solve Ford's problems, any more than Roger Smith helped GM. Jaguar's long term designs are locked in for years, so anyone buying the brand would have to use Ford components until their own change-over (much like Rolls-Royce and Bentley using BMW parts between 1998-2003 while owned by VWAG). The knowledge gained with aluminum technology could be transfered to Lincoln, among many other points. The hard work to revitalise Jaguar would not be lost if re-invested in Lincoln.
MKS would have to be re-engineered into a crash "Stilletto" program. Light-weight bodyshells, powerful engines, good weight balance, extreme handling envelopes beyond what Lincoln drivers have known. Brawn behind the muscle, coupled with some taut styling might do the trick. Mark S, ergo has not gone far enough if that be the solution. So that a new Lincoln would blow the doors off the 300 & V Series Cadillacs. If Lincoln could beat them at their own game, then there might be light at the end of the narrowing tunnel. Horbury must put the punch back into Lincoln.
It will take the Gutz to do it: make a Lincoln worth lusting after. Ford Motor has very little to lose in such a strategy...with Toyota passing Ford even for one month in America means that time is beginning to run out. Toyota sold two cars in America in 1958 at the same time the '61 was being planned. Lexus has not been around that long vis a vis Lincoln, some Lexus dealers are spending $75Mn on showrooms, while Lincoln dealers languish, and Ford's fortunes seemingly to plummet.
BMW AG will be high-lighting its designs and new award winning Leipzig factory in their latest advertisement campaign: pointing up the fact that Lincoln will not have its own state-of-the-art factory after Wixom closes. The stakes, however, now so high, that only the product will save Lincoln. Any new Mark S will have to be twice, if not three times as good as the competition. Messrs. Ford & Fields, Leet & Horbury will have to make us "love" our Lincolns again!
(Sources: FT; Ford Motor Company; Toyota Motor Corporation)