The Winner of This Luxury Vehicle Satisfaction Award Will Stun You

If you guessed the premium-brand winner of AutoPacific's annual Vehicle Satisfaction Award, you'd be one of the few.

Jun 22, 2014 at 7:15PM

Lincoln's MKC should take the brand's sales to new heights. Source: Ford.

What luxury brand would you guess earned this year's top ranking in the "Premium Brand" segment of automotive research firm AutoPacific's 18th-annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards? Perhaps Audi? BMW or Mercedes would be a solid guess. How about Lexus, Jaguar, or Porsche

Nope, none of those elite brands took home the top ranking. Instead, Ford's (NYSE:F) practically forgotten and still-struggling Lincoln brand earned the top spot among luxury vehicles. Stunning, right? 

A Lincoln turnaround?
This chart of Lincoln's sales offers a clear illustration of why Ford's luxury brand desperately needed some good news.

Lincoln's annual vehicle sales in the U.S. Source: Ford Motor Company.

"Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes," AutoPacific President George Peterson said in the Detroit Free Press. "The winners perform well in 50 separate categories that objectively measure the ownership experience," Peterson added.

Looking at individual vehicle winners, Lincoln's MKS was No. 1 in the "Executive Luxury Car" segment and Lincoln's MKZ landed the top spot for the "Luxury Mid-Size Car" award. Lincoln's hybrid version of the MKZ, which has been far more popular than the automaker anticipated, placed first for the "Hybrid Car" award.

Lincoln's winning the top "Premium Brand" award, as well as multiple individual awards, comes at an opportune time as Ford continues to pour money into the luxury lineup's revival.

Lincoln's newest vehicle, the MKC, just became available last month. The highly anticipated luxury crossover is expected to take Lincoln's sales to heights not seen in years and will likely rival the MKZ midsize sedan -- which itself was recently redesigned -- as the brand's best-selling vehicle. The MKC is expected to reach sales between 26,000 and 28,000 annually, according to IHS Automotive. That high end would nearly equal the sales level for all of Lincoln's vehicles combined through April of this year (28,046 units).

What's next and why it matters
Lincoln will also roll out a redesigned Navigator next year, along with another new vehicle. The brand will follow that up with yet another new vehicle in 2016. Consumers and investors have cheered Ford's turnaround from losing tens of billions of dollars before and during the recession, as well as for its avoidance of a taxpayer bailout during that time. It needs to perform the same type of turnaround on its luxury brand to become a top global automaker.

If recent results are any indication of Lincoln's future, it has a chance to compete. The MKZ has been well received and the MKC is expected to impress luxury consumers. Lincoln sales, while still much lower than a decade ago, are up 21% to date in 2014 compared to the corresponding year-ago period.

Lincoln becoming a competitive luxury brand is important to Ford, which commands one of the most loyal consumer bases in the industry for its mainstream Blue Oval lineup. Unfortunately, consumers previously have had few viable options to step up to the company's luxury offerings from the Ford brand. If Lincoln continues to impress critics, win brand awards, and produce popular vehicles, those consumers won't have to leave Ford/Lincoln lots for a competitor's. That will be a huge win for the company, its investors, and loyal Ford car buyers. 

Warren Buffett's worst automotive nightmare (Hint: It's not Tesla)
A major technological shift is happening in the automotive industry. Most people are skeptical about its impact. Warren Buffett isn't one of them. He recently called it a "real threat" to one of his favorite businesses. An executive at Ford called the technology "fantastic." The beauty for investors is that there is an easy way to invest in this megatrend. Click here to access our exclusive report on this stock.

Daniel Miller owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information