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Ford Motor Co is rolling out a new Lincoln model with a panoramic glass roof option to lure younger, more affluent buyers, as it tries to revive a luxury brand whose sales peaked two decades ago.
The new 1.4-square metre roof is just one feature designed to distinguish the 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan in the crowded luxury market.
Ford is betting that fresh designs, glossier showrooms and a personalised approach to service will help drive sales. The MKZ, which will debut at the New York auto show this week, is one of seven new or revamped Lincoln models to be introduced by 2015, intended to resuscitate the brand.
A LONG WAY TO GO
Mark Fields, head of Ford operations in North and South America, said: “We realise we have a long journey ahead of us, but I think we have set a good foundation for it with this car and what we're trying to do with the consumer experience.”
Lincoln was the top-selling luxury car brand in the United States in the 1990s, but last year sales totaled 85 643, less than half the number sold by Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand.
Ford aims to lower the average age of Lincoln buyers from 65 to 57, and raise the target average income by more than 50 percent to nearly $160 000 (R1.2 million) a year.
Lincoln is also hoping that, over time. half its buyers will come from other luxury brands. Currently, Lincoln's “conquest” rate is 37 percent.
To encourage more car shoppers to test drive a Lincoln, Ford is considering initiatives such as the “Lincoln date night”.
Ford's head of global marketing, Jim Farley, said: “To reward you for trying out our car, we’d like to take you out to dinner.”
Ford has not released pricing information on the MKZ, nor has it disclosed how much the glass roof option will cost. The MKZ will compete against the Cadillac CTS and the Lexus ES.
The MKZ is the first Lincoln since the 1970s to be designed in a studio devoted exclusively to the luxury brand, headed by former Cadillac exterior designer Max Wolff. It will Lincoln be offered with a choice of three powertrains, including a hybrid that can get 5.8 litres per 100km in the city, and a lane monitoring system. The MKZ will also come with MyLincoln Touch, a touch-screen entertainment and navigation system, as a standard feature. - Reuters