Ford (NYSE: F ) has quite a challenge – and opportunity – ahead of it as it attempts to revitalize its luxury Lincoln brand. At the recent International CES in Las Vegas, Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore was able to speak with Jim Farley – head of the Lincoln brand and executive vice president of global marketing, sales, and service.
Farley says Ford is lavishing attention on Lincoln, its only remaining premium brand, with several product launches on the horizon and a renewed focus on personalized luxury and service, including an attentive online presence, black label customization, and more.
A full transcript follows the video.
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James Farley: Lincoln is Ford's only premium brand now, after we sold the PAG brands. We're in the very beginning stages of revitalization. It's a project that will take many years, but it's really exciting for us at Ford.
Lincoln, historically, has been a very iconic name in our industry and now we have the chance to reinvent it, in a way. We're doing that by launching a whole new set of products. All of our core Lincolns – we've launched one so far, and we have three more to go in the next few years. The MKC, a new small crossover, we'll be launching later this year. That's the second, and we have two more big launches coming.
We're also launching in China for the first time, later this year; a big deal for Lincoln. Unlike the U.S., Lincoln in China is revered. It was a vehicle that is very associated with the presidential limousines, and it has a very high-end imagery there. Now the chance to sell it in volume is going to be a very exciting project for us.
We're really focused on two things; developing products that are more progressive and a little bit more imaginative, and we go to market uniquely. Our hybrid, MKZ, is the same price as our gas. No one else is doing that. It's more than 30% of our sales now – more than 50% in California – are the hybrid now.
But also, our customers' experience; a lot of the big luxury brands are like big-box retailers right now. You go to the dealership, it's huge, a lot of people in the waiting lounge. Lincoln is going to be quite different. We want it to be a personal brand. We're going to be launching a black label, a very personalized vehicle, across our lineup so everyone can buy a customized Lincoln and make it their own. That's the kind of thing.
We have an online 24/7, so if you want to know about the brand or shop, you can go online at Lincoln.com and actually talk to a live person at 2:00 in the morning. You can date the brand; we have Lincoln Date Night, where we'll give you a test drive and go out to dinner on the brand. We're trying to reintroduce that personal idea of luxury and service.