As I sat on stage with Mark Fields, President of Ford operations in North and South America, I wondered what he was thinking as researchers presented their findings on Gen Y (those folks between 18-34 years-old) attitudes on luxury auto brands. We were speaking at the 4th annual Deloitte conference on Gen Y auto buyers and this was the final presentation of the night: "Gen Y Buyers View of Luxury Autos." In a nutshell the research team from UCLA said Gen Y wants established luxury brands, particularly those associated with performance.
No wonder BMW and Audi were listed as examples of luxury cars 18-34 year olds aspire to own. Lincoln is not. And I would venture to say it's not even on their radar of possibilities.
Against that backdrop and the fact Lincoln sales dropped last year while industry and luxury auto sales increased, Ford continues to talk a good game about Lincoln. At the Detroit Auto Show, CEO Alan Mulallywas emphatic in telling me Ford is committed to rebuilding Lincoln as a strong, competitive premium brand.