Man, how about that upcoming Lincoln Aviator? Pretty sharp-looking SUV, ain’t it? And then there’s the new Navigator. Kinda big, though, but the 2019 Nautilus should be just the ticket for the front-drive midsizer crowd.
Oh, right — we were talking about sedans. Lincoln loves ’em, apparently, and it’s not having any of this Ford’s-killing-all-the-cars talk.
Speaking to Automobile in the wake of Ford’s decision to kill off the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus in North America, a spokesman for the automaker tried to reassure traditionalists that the brand which brought you the Town Car for so many years has not abandoned its three-box heritage.
Ford is “committed” to the Lincoln MKZ and Continental, the spokesman said.
Is that the sound of doubt we hear echoing through readers’ minds? They’d be forgiven for thinking this Ford rep is referring to just the current-generation MKZ and Continental, as we’ve detailed just how poorly these models sell. Rumors of the Continental’s looming demise spread like wildfire earlier this year. Then, just as quickly, another rumor arose, this time based on the testimony of dealers who attended a National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in Las Vegas.
Ford Motor Company brass apparently wanted Lincoln dealers to know it wasn’t completely opposed to the idea of selling cars. Oh, and the next Continental will have suicide doors, they said.
It’s hard to muster up a firm belief on this kind of shaky footing. Both the Continental and MKZ ride atop Ford’s CD4 platform, the same one underpinning the Fusion, Edge, and MKX/Nautilus. While the Continental shares valuable factory space with the Mustang in Flat Rock, Michigan, Mexican workers cobble together the MKZ south of the Rio Grande.
One can envision a next-gen Continental appearing on the year-drive CD6 platform found beneath the 2020 Ford Explorer and Aviator, but we’ve heard that particular version of the modular platform is reserved only for SUVs, at least for the time being. And the MKZ? Maybe it could soldier on with its current platform, or switch to whatever shows up beneath the next-gen Edge. That model isn’t expected to see a revamp until the coming decade.
Then there’s the issue of China. While Lincoln sales fell 17.1 percent in the U.S. over the first three months of 2018, sales are on the rise in China, where the Continental is a prized executive car. The Lincoln brand is apparently readying a product surge for that market. One of those products, Reuters reports, is allegedly a new MKZ.
However, just because China gets an American model doesn’t mean Americans will. Look at the China-only Ford Taurus (also built on the CD4 platform) for proof of that. It’s possible, though, that China could build a sedan for us, just like it does with the Cadillac CT6, Volvo S90, and Buick Envision, thus freeing up valuable domestic plant space for the production of high-profit SUVs. Production of the first domestically produced Chinese Lincolns is expected to kick off before the end of next year.
As we said before, it’s weird to think of the Lincoln brand without at least one car anchoring the division to its illustrious past. Still, it’s impossible to ignore that MKZ sales fell 34.4 percent in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018, with the Continental not far behind with a volume loss of 25.1 percent. At this point, it would be strange to see a next-generation MKZ appear in North America.
A new Continental? That’s a little more understandable.
[Images: Lincoln Motor Company]