Is Ford Competing Against Themselves Internationally?
Here in the United States, the Ford Motor Company does pretty well for itself. However, their Lincoln brand doesn’t do as well as they’d like, and they’re trying different ways to bolster the brand’s reputation and sales. Vehicles like the new MKC will help there, but international sales are also important. But is Ford competing against themselves in international markets, shooting themselves in the foot?
Let’s start with the all-new Lincoln Continental. Even though the vehicle will most likely be on sale in the United States, it’s clearly a vehicle that was designed for the discriminating Chinese customer. That’s evident by the extremely luxurious back seat.
It’s a car with premium features to appeal to the up and coming Chinese market. There is precedent for strong American car sales in the country, with Buick leading the way selling twice as many cars there as they do in the United States.
Taking the new Continental to China makes a lot of sense to me, but I’m a bit confused why Ford also needs a Chinese market Taurus? Just revealed at Auto Shanghai, the new Chinese Taurus appears to offer many of the features of the Continental, but with a Blue Oval badge on the hood.
While it’s unclear from the press release, it looks like the new Taurus might even be built on the same platform as the Continental. Rear-seat rooms seems to be just a capacious, and Ford says it’s designed for the discerning Chinese businessperson.
That’s all well and good, but what’s the point of the Continental then?
In Europe, Ford has a high-trim version of the Mondeo (which is the Ford Fusion to us) called the Vignale. Think of it as a Titanium on steroids. Now in Europe, Lincoln really isn’t a thing, but here in the United States our upscale Fusion is a Lincoln MKZ.
So what’s the big deal? Because Ford is now selling the same versions of their cars worldwide, there’s a chance these international models will make it to the United States.
Let’s take that Vignale Mondeo for example. There has been talk in the past about bringing that to the United States for sale. That’d be all well and good, except it’d completely eliminate the need for someone to purchase a MKZ.
If we look at the Lincoln Continental and the Ford Taurus, we see similar overlap. The new Chinese Taurus, which could very well be the new U.S. Taurus, will share many elements from the Continental. Lane keep assistance, radar cruise, and massaging seats are already in Ford vehicles in the United States, and that trend will surely continue.
Brand differentiation is important. But as more and more Ford products move up in luxury, it makes me wonder why Lincoln remains necessary, unless the brand can go in an entirely new direction.
What do you think? Let us know in the forums!