Lincoln dealers want to be in sedan business

Industry

Based on recent sales figures, not many people want a Lincoln MKZ or Continental.

But the brand’s dealer council hopes executives don’t cut bait just yet.

“The council continues to talk to the company about still needing to be in the sedan business,” Tom Lynch, chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council, told Automotive News. “You only have to look at Tesla. If you have a strong product, people are going to want it, and they’re going to want to buy it. What that looks like for Lincoln going forward, I’m not sure of.”

U.S. sales of the midsize MKZ fell 11 percent last year to 17,725. Sales of the Continental large sedan plummeted 25 percent to 6,586, even with a hyperlimited run of a suicide-door special edition that generated considerable buzz. That’s not many more than the 5,261 Continentals Lincoln needed just four months to sell in 2016, the year it revived the storied nameplate after a long hiatus.

Lincoln says it will stop making the MKZ this year, while Automotive News has reported that the Continental is expected to go out of production in 2021.

Ford Motor Co.’s new contract with the UAW, which lists product plans at the company’s U.S. plants for the next four years, did not offer much hope for the Continental. It said only that the car would continue through its life cycle at Flat Rock Assembly Plant in southeast Michigan.

Some of Lincoln’s rivals, however, have doubled-down on cars. Cadillac last year revealed the CT5 and CT4 sedans, which effectively replace the CTS and ATS. Cadillac used the CT6, which was discontinued last month, as the flagship for its highly touted Super Cruise driver-assist technology, and the CT5 is slated to get that feature this year.

Lynch and Lincoln’s dealer council don’t want to cede those sales.

“The sedan business is still a third of the business,” said Lynch, general manager of North Florida Lincoln in Jacksonville. “If we’re not in segments where there still is a good amount of business, I think the company and the dealers lose out. So for all those reasons, council still feels like we need to be in the sedan business.”

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