This summer, thousands of North Americans will take to the highways and city streets in luxury vehicles, and many of them will do so in a Lincoln. While luxury sales in the U.S. have remained fairly flat over the past couple of years, Lincoln is bucking the trend — sales are up 10%, and though it may not be the best-selling luxury brand in the country, its growth is remarkable for a company that was on the verge of shutting down only five years ago.
After flying high for most of the 20th century with its large town cars and affluent charm, Lincoln started to lose its way toward the end of the 90s. There had been a general shift away from cars and toward SUVs as status symbols, and Lincoln, like other luxury car producers, invested heavily in creating a series of luxury SUV brands. Some, like the Navigator, were quite successful; others, like the Aviator, were less so. But these massive, gas-guzzling vehicles quickly fell out of fashion when fuel prices rose in the mid-2000s, and seemingly unable to adapt to the changing market, Lincoln entered into what seemed like terminal decline. Ford was rumoured to be considering winding up Lincoln’s operations altogether.
Fortunately for Lincoln, steadier heads prevailed and the brand was given a new lease on life. Since 2013 there has been steady growth as Lincoln re-positions itself as a luxury car company for the 21st century. And this growth hasn’t just been seen on Lincoln’s home turf in the U.S. —in other major North American markets, like Canada, Lincoln is capitalizing off a general surge in luxury vehicles sales. Luxury vehicles accounted for almost 12 percent of total sales in Canada in 2017 — a year that saw a record-breaking 2 million vehicles sold across the country. This represents growth of 3 percent over the past five years, and prominent Canadian dealerships like Colony Lincoln have been some of the main beneficiaries of this sales boom.
A number of factors are contributing to this new growth, but Lincoln’s own revitalization is a huge part of its appeal. In 2017, after a 15-year hiatus, Lincoln released the tenth generation of the legendary Continental, which had been Lincoln’s flagship for most of the second half of the twentieth century before being discontinued in 2002. The new Continental was remarkable both for its own merits (it has garnered rave reviews from the automotive press for its style and power) and for what it communicated about the direction Lincoln is going in.
After decades spent chasing trends in the wilderness, Lincoln is returning to its roots as a purveyor of fine, aristocratic cars for a discerning audience. The new Continental blends the best elements of the car’s heritage with the newest engineering and technology to create a driving experience that is both timeless and contemporary. Lincoln’s strength has always been its reputation for dignity and tradition, and by re-imagining these values for the 21stcentury, Lincoln is regaining its rightful place in the first rank of North American luxury brands.