Ford revives Lincoln with glass roof and ‘date nights’

NEW YORK, Tue Apr 3, 2012 – Ford Motor Co. is rolling out new Lincoln models with a panoramic glass roof option to lure younger, more affluent buyers, as the No. 2 U.S. automaker tries to revive a luxury brand whose sales peaked two decades ago.

The new signature retractable 15-square-foot roof is just one feature designed to distinguish the 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan in the crowded luxury market.

Ford is betting that fresh designs, glossier showrooms and a personalized approach to service will help drive sales. The MKZ, which will be unveiled at the New York auto show this week, is one of seven new or revamped Lincoln models to be introduced by 2015 intended to resuscitate the brand.

“We realize we have a long journey ahead of us, but I think we have set a good foundation for it from the product and also what we’re trying to do with the consumer experience,” said Mark Fields, head of Ford operations in North and South America, at a media event in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Lincoln was the top-selling luxury nameplate in the United States in the 1990s, but last year, sales totaled 85,643, less than half the vehicles sold by Lexus, Toyota Motor Co’s. luxury brand.

Ford aims to lower the average age of Lincoln buyers to 57 years from 65, and raise the target average income by more than 50 percent to nearly $160,000 a year.

Lincoln is also hoping that over time half of its buyers will come from other luxury brands. Currently, Lincoln’s “conquest” rate is 37 percent.

To encourage more car shoppers to test drive a Lincoln, Ford is considering initiatives like “the Lincoln date night,” Ford’s head of global marketing, Jim Farley said.