MKZ’s launch starts the new Lincoln-Lexus war

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 20, 2012

The new Lincoln MKZ sedan that will come out this fall will be going up against the very popular Lexus ES, a new rival. Lincoln’s brand managers said that the mid-sized 2013 MKZ has a retail price of $36,800, which includes freight. This makes it a bit more affordable than the Lexus ES, which was also redesigned for 2013.

Lincoln’s marketing strategies are targeted at new demographic groups as it aims to be aligned with a luxury import customer base. In addition, the brand is reforming its retail chain to acquire the type of concierge approach to customers that Lexus started in the early 1990s. From January to July, Lincoln sold 48,937 units in the U.S., a 2% drop.

Meanwhile, the overall market has improved by 14%. Lexus sales in the U.S. have recovered by 23% to 126,367 units this year after its inventory experienced shortages due to the impact of the earthquake in March 2011. Lexus is preparing a plan to boost the market position of the ES.

Just last week, Jim Lenz, the CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, hinted at the possibility that Toyota will transfer its ES production to North America from Japan to reduce the effects of the strengthening yen.

When Lincoln executives presented the new MKZ at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Lexus and the ES were mentioned several times. C.J. O'Donnell, Lincoln group marketing manager, said that Cadillac has always been Lincoln’s main rival but there will soon be other SUVs entering this segment.

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