Does the world hunger for 'American luxury?' Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group thinks so and will support the idea by marketing Lincoln in Europe and Japan. Eventually, that is.
When Lincoln's smaller, European-flavored LS sedan debuted in the United States last summer, there was talk of selling it in Europe. But now Woldgang Reitzle, head of the Premier Group, has decided that Lincoln must enter Europe with at least two vehicles. That delays the move indefinitely.
The division wants to be well prepared when it arrives in Europe, said Jim rogers, Lincoln Mercury's general marketing manager. 'You can't compete with the brands they have in Europe with just one product,' he said. Lincoln sells about 100 LS models per month in Japan.
The LS and the Navigator sport-utility have proven strong sellers in the United States. More importantly in marketing managers' minds, they have attracted younger buyers. For those two models the typical buyer is 45 to 50 years old. For traditional, larger sedans such as the Town Car and the Continental, the typical buyer is 68. Rogers wants to associate the Lincoln brand with the casual affluence of jean-waring Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and rugged film star Harrison Ford. Lincoln Mercury has been teaching its Irvine, California, employes about the concept. Recently, the division held an 'immersion event' where workers were given mock credit cards to shop for products that fit the concept.
For cars, American luxury supposedly means powerful, comfortable vehicles that skip ostentatious touches. The concept is 'a warm, welcoming, glad-to-have-you-hear kind of luxury,' Rogers said. More traditional 'rule-bound' societies will respond to it, in Rogers' view: 'This is extraordinarily attractive in Japan and Europe because it is a whole new idea over there.'