Production of the redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan started last month but it’s faced with the formidable task of restoring the brand’s image as a competitive luxury brand. The production version is on display at the New York auto show. It’s in the small-luxury segment where many customers enter the luxury market.
Since its introduction as the 2006 Zephyr (which was renamed as the MKZ), it has fallen behind its rivals in the segment dominated by the BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C class, Infiniti G and Cadillac CTS. GM is hoping that with the addition of new technologies, it will be able to close the gap. Some believe that the MKZ is just one of the steps for Lincoln.
It joins the updated MKS sedan and MKT crossover in the brand’s current offering. Lincoln will be offering seven new or revamped Lincoln products by the end of 2014. The MKZ is the first to demonstrate its new identity. C.J. O'Donnell, Lincoln group marketing manager, said that around 40% of present Lincoln sales are conquests.
Rebecca Lindland, an IHS Automotive analyst, said that Lincoln aims to increase this number to 60% by the end of 2015. She added that Lincoln has to convince the target buyers “one car at a time."
The automaker would be pressured to give these buyers the types of luxury appointments that the major players could offer, aside from the more competitive lease rates and monthly payments for this segment, which it considers to be highly price-sensitive. To attract more sales, Lincoln plans to gain an edge compared to the high-volume luxury brands by offering excellent customer service.