These are challenging times for the executives who run the luxury brands at General Motors and Ford.
Lincoln has been on wobbly legs for years, and Cadillac is lagging behind the competition, especially the German luxury competition.
Detroit News Business columnist Daniel Howes has been following the Michigan automakers' struggle with the luxury business. He says these companies have largely failed to get luxury buyers to take their products seriously.
"Lincoln has failed for a long time, in a large part because Ford was not willing to spend the money to make Lincoln differentiated enough. A lot of people will tell you today that Cadillac has got the best product, but the problem is the sales are not producing," says Howes.
Well... at least in the movie theaters. Ford executives are hoping enthusiasm for its re-tweaked Lincoln brand grows as well (the company is using the former president in advertising campaigns for the newly named "Lincoln Motor Company").
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., President and CEO Allan Mulally, and Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service Lincoln James Farley were all up on stage to unveil the new concept car at the Detroit Auto Show this morning - the Lincoln MKC.
Take a look at the unveiling:
Bill Vlasic wrote about the challenges faced by the struggling Lincoln brand in the New York Times:
As recently as the 1990s, Lincoln was the top-selling luxury automotive brand in the United States. Its large Town Car sedan and hulking Navigator S.U.V. defined the brand, and sales topped more than 230,000 vehicles a year.
But since then, Lincoln has been left in the dust by the German category leaders BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota’s Lexus division. This year, Lincoln ranks eighth in the American luxury segment, with sales down 2 percent, to 69,000, vehicles in the first 10 months of the year.
Its crosstown rival G.M. has had much better success reviving its Cadillac brand.
Ford's luxury brand is being renamed Lincoln Motor Company today. Ford execs introduced the new "The Lincoln Motor Company" during an event at New York City’s Lincoln Center Plaza this morning.
Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reported that's the name the company had when Ford acquired it in 1922:
Ford's Lincoln brand is troubled. Sales are poor and the quality of the brand has eroded in recent years.
Ford promises it will revitalize the Lincoln Motor Company brand, just as it revitalized the Ford brand, and Lincolns will become desirable cars once again, starting with the new 2013 MKZ.
The hybrid version of the M-K-Z get 45 miles per gallon combined and Ford will sell it for the same price as the non-hybrid. Other unusual features include a retractable glass roof and a push-button gear shifter.
Three other new Lincolns are in the works.
The company says as proof that it plans to invest in the brand, the company plans to air a spot during the next Super Bowl in February. The ad will be developed "in an unprecedented way," they say.
This summer, Automotive News got ahold of a document that Ford Motor Company sent to a number of outside agencies, in which the company outlined its plans for the Lincoln brand - including a name change to "Lincoln Motor Co."
That's the original name of the company which was acquired by Ford in 1922.
I called a Lincoln spokesman to try to confirm the name change, but was told firmly, "there is no name change right now." I got the distinct impression he wasn't very happy about my question.
Consumer Reports says it won't put three Detroit cars on its influential "recommended" list - the Dodge Dart, a compact car from Chrysler, the Lincoln MKS, Ford's refreshed luxury sedan , and the Cadillac XTS.
Consumer Reports: Dart "stalls out on its powertrains."
This is especially bad news for Chrysler, according to Mark Phelan, auto critic for the Detroit Free Press.