Lincoln and Volvo rank dead last in a recent survey gauging desirability among luxury-vehicle lease customers.
The study, conducted by Swapalease.com, an online automotive-lease marketplace, asked 3,000 lessees to rank their perceptions of certain luxury brands including Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Infiniti, Lincoln and Volvo.
Among those polled, 45.4% say they are less likely to lease a Lincoln than 10 years ago and 43.4% point to Volvo as less desirable. Only 16.1% identify Porsche, while 19.5% say they are less interested in Infiniti than they were a decade ago.
Porsche is rated the most desirable brand by 39.8% of those polled.
“Fewer and fewer people that lease vehicles find (Lincoln and Volvo) to be desirable,” Scot Hall, executive vice president-Swapalease.com, tells WardsAuto. “If you go back five to 10 years on Volvo and 10-15 years on Lincoln, both would’ve been very desirable, lease or otherwise.”
Lincoln, he says, should develop a new lease strategy to showcase its new vehicles, while Volvo needs to raise its profile in the leasing market.
“Those were the bottom two on the ladder,” Hall says, noting there was little improvement in the two brands’ desirability vs. last year’s study.
Asked to define the differences between each of the brands today compared with 10 years ago, luxury-lease customers surveyed say Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche now suffer from high pricing, while Lincoln and Volvo simply lack relevance.
Hall says the low rating by lease intenders is bad news for Lincoln and Volvo. Leasing is critical at the upper end of the market, accounting for about half of all luxury-vehicle sales in the U.S., Swapalease.com says. That compares with about 15% for mainstream models.
Lincoln, Hall says, suffered a blow when the launch of the all-new ’13 MKZ midsize sedan was delayed due to quality concerns. However, Lincoln officials downplay the Swapalease.com survey results, saying the marque’s revival plan is on track.
“The reinvention under way with Lincoln is clearly having a significant positive impact on the brand’s positive perception,” Kevin Cour, manager-Lincoln Sales and Service Operations, tells WardsAuto.
“This continues to be a journey – with four all-new vehicles in the next four years – that will take time,” he adds. “But the signs are encouraging, and we will continue on our strategic path.”
Hall says consumers consider Volvo a cut below German competitors, Mercedes and Audi and contends the brand has relied on its safety reputation for too long.
“Any car you drive today, safety is going to be a major part of engineering of that vehicle,” he says. “Everyone has caught up, and it has diluted the Volvo name.”
Greg Swetoha, Volvo North America executive vice president-sales, says the auto maker is introducing new models and boosting its marketing efforts to build awareness.
“We have increased our advertising spend 25% from last year, which includes a greater focus on our lease offers than we have traditionally done in years past,” he tells WardsAuto. “We have already seen an increase in our lease mix, up to 37% this year, versus 28% from the same period last year.”
Volvo just now is launching its product-revitalization plan, and new ’14 model-year vehicles, set to hit showrooms later this month, will receive a “significant facelift,” Swetoha says.
Hall remains optimistic about the two brands, notingis committed to reinvigorating Lincoln, while Volvo is a European brand with a long history and sufficient resources from new owner, China-based Zhejiang Geely.
Poor lease desirability is “generally not a good sign,” he says, “but some manufacturers have pulled out of issues like this.”