Motor Co. executives have been stressing the importance of rebuilding the Lincoln luxury brand in recent weeks, announcing increased investment in the division and the impending launch of a new advertising campaign.
If September U.S. sales are a harbinger, the auto maker should have an easier time reinventing Lincoln, as deliveries shot up 25.6% vs. year-ago to 7,510, according to Ward’s data.
In comparison, total luxury-vehicle sales were down 12.9% for the month, although most brands posted higher volumes than Lincoln.
Lincoln models turning in exceptional performances include the MKT cross/utility vehicle, gaining 15.6%, and the MKX CUV, up 76.0% vs. year-ago.
The results represent good news for Lincoln-Mercury dealers, who will lose Mercury aswinds down the brand during the remainder of the year.
Over the next five years, Ford plans to add seven new or refreshened Lincolns. A new advertising tagline – “Smarter Than Luxury” – launches tomorrow.
But whether Lincoln’s sales increase will compensate for the demise of Mercury remains uncertain.
In September, Mercury sales were up 15.9% vs. like-2009 on 6,306 deliveries.
With three months left for the brand to live, dealers have some 13,000 units in stock, Ken Czubay, Ford vice president-sales and marketing, says in a conference call with analysts and reporters.
“We’re right on pace to what we estimated, and we anticipate a very smooth sell-down of Mercury products,” he says. “Dealers and consumers responded well.”
Lincoln and Mercury sales weren’t the only thing Ford had to crow about in September. For the month, total U.S. light-vehicle sales were up a whopping 46.4% to 158,137 units.
In addition to the year-over-year sales gain, Ford’s retail market share increased in September, marking the 23rd time in the last 24 months it has done so.
“It’s encouraging we’ve gained retail share in every region of the country,” Czubay says. “On the West Coast our share is over 11%, a level we’ve not seen in over four years. And we’re seeing similar trends in Eastern and Southeastern areas.”
September sales also got a shot in the arm from the F-Series pickup, skyrocketing 40.0% to 45,195. Year-to-date, Ford has delivered 368,402 units, according to Ward’s data.
F-Series sales “are closing in on last year’s full-year total of 414,000, with another quarter to go,” says George Pipas, Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst.
Ford also received a boost from the launch of new products, including the redesigned ’11 Edge CUV, which saw deliveries soar 186% to 12,815.
Edge consumers loaded up on options, including the new MyFord Touch infotainment system, Czubay says. “On Edge, MyFord Touch was on 75% of all dealer orders.”
Fiesta B-car sales tallied 3,050 units, but Czubay predicts demand will escalate as more units trickle into dealerships. Deliveries were stalled by weather-related issues that damaged railways used to transport the cars to U.S. dealers.
“We have about 7,000 Fiestas now at dealerships, up more than double where we were at beginning of the month,” he says. “Ten thousand would be good number (to have in inventory).”
The Focus C-car also remained a hot seller, with sales up 48.0% to 13,587. The Fusion C/D car wasn’t far behind with 14,247 deliveries, good for a 47.0% increase.
Ford ended September with a 402,000-unit inventory, including 151,000 cars and 251,000 trucks.