Blame shortcuts for Lincoln's downfall. Rather than launching new technologies, like Toyota
The rebranding strategy also produced vehicles that observers largely found dull by luxury standards. If you look at the success of the German luxury makers, or General Motors'
A few roadblocks
Fortunately, Ford seems to have learned its lesson regarding style. It finally abandoned the yawn-inducing American Focus and brought the infinitely cooler European model to the states. Thanks to the new design and rising gas prices, sales of the car rose 32% year over year in May.
The company will still have to work very hard to prove to consumers that Lincolns are more than gussied-up Fords. Ford hopes to address the missing "wow" factor by marketing Lincoln to gadget lovers. In addition to computer-controlled steering and suspension systems, the new cars will feature nifty tech-toys, including customizable LCD screens for gauges and the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system.
Although a lot of these features sound cool, they're not exactly new. Unless Lincoln's execution blows our minds, the brand will simply be catching up to its competitors. If that is the case, then the cars will have to win on design.
Distinctive styling and performance upgrades also feature in Ford's plans for the new Lincoln line. However, the automaker still plans to base many of its models on existing Ford platforms. This strategy has obvious cost advantages, but it won't do much to help Lincoln's reputation.
It might be a long ride
If Ford can successfully revive Lincoln, it will undoubtedly help the company, but the obstacles seem almost overwhelming. I wouldn't be surprised if the brand's makeover stumbles a bit. Old consumer prejudices die hard, and building a new reputation takes time.
However, I think Ford's management is up to the task. This also wouldn't be the first seemingly impossible challenge the company has overcome. In February, its Fusion model actually outsold the Honda
Do you agree? Or has Lincoln passed the point of no return? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Fool contributor Patrick Martin does not own shares of any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors and Ford Motor. 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.