Exclusive: Ford to overhaul Lincoln brand, this time with big bucks

Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:16pm EDT
 
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By Paul Lienert and Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's (F.N: Quote) new chief executive, Mark Fields, is giving the automaker's long-moribund Lincoln brand what his predecessor Alan Mulally never could: a little love and a lot of cash.

Lincoln, a storied Detroit brand which Ford has owned since 1922, has been in a swoon for the past two decades, leaving dealers and customers wondering if Ford management had left the brand for dead.

Now, with the renewed backing of Executive Chairman Bill Ford and the company's board, Fields has committed the automaker to a multiyear, multibillion-dollar overhaul of Lincoln that includes a significant investment in a new premium vehicle platform that will underpin several future Lincoln vehicles, four sources told Reuters.

Ford could spend $5 billion or more over the next five years to revive Lincoln, revamp its product portfolio and reposition it as a true competitor to such global luxury leaders as Daimler AG's (DAIGn.DE: Quote) Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG (BMWG.DE: Quote), the sources said. Details of the new platform and the size and scope of the investment have not previously been reported.

"It's really important for us to have a relevant and vibrant luxury brand," Fields told Reuters on Friday. "You need to make the investment and build this brand over time."

He declined to discuss details about Ford's spending and product plans.

Fields said Ford is looking at the Lincoln rebuilding effort "in terms of generations of products," an effort that will stretch well into the next decade.

Ford executives said last month that the immediate goal of the latest Lincoln turnaround effort is to triple the brand's global sales to 300,000 vehicles by 2020.   Continued...

 
The company logo is seen on the bonnet of a Ford car during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files