Lincoln Legacy Undergirds Road to the MKT Era

Posted on August 16, 2011 by - Also by this author

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Towne Livery’s David Bastian has created and cultivated a successful nationwide limousine and livery vehicle sales program over the last four years.
Towne Livery’s David Bastian has created and cultivated a successful nationwide limousine and livery vehicle sales program over the last four years.

New York livery dealer David Bastian prepares for the advent of the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car as the Towne Automotive Group marks 25 years as a seller of Fords and 42 years as a seller of Lincolns with the grand opening of a new facility.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Towne Automotive Group could be credited for two standout attributes: Longevity and good timing.

As one of the leading Lincoln livery dealers in the U.S., Towne marks 42 years in business amid plans to open a new Lincoln showroom and facility in October — just in time for the arrival next year of the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car.

MKT on the way
The MKT Town Car, which debuted at the 2011 International LCT Show, replaces the Lincoln Town Car Executive L. Ford Motor Co. wraps up production by Aug. 31 at its Oakville, Ontario assembly plant, 66 miles from the Buffalo-area Towne dealership. For limousine vehicle dealerships such as Towne and its customers, the advent of the MKT Town Car marks a major transition, not just in vehicle styling but in the sales and marketing of the vehicle as well. In fact, the MKT hits close to Towne’s home: 25 of its parts are stamped at a Buffalo-area plant, such as sub assemblies, outer skin, doors, hood, fenders, and lift gate.

“The challenge is going from sedan to crossover,” says David Bastian, the commercial sales manager at Towne Livery. Bastian, 40, joined Towne in 2007 and started its limousine/livery fleet sales program. He previously worked for 15 years in sales at other Lincoln Mercury dealerships in the Buffalo, N.Y. region. He says he is well aware of the culture-shock surrounding the new styling.

“A lot of people in the industry think that a crossover (CUV) is a soccer Mom vehicle,” he says. “The challenge is to get the limousine operators to accept the change. The MKT Town Car will be similar to what operators already have; it’s not as wide and long, but the MKT will give more headroom and more cargo room and more technology. . . . Once they do the research and compare the MKT to the [Toyota] Avalon, Mercedes or BMW, or any product out there, they will [conclude] that this is the best choice of vehicle in the auto industry.”

New showroom for Lincolns
Towne plans to open a 30,000 square-foot Ford/Lincoln sales and service facility on its property in October, which includes a new 10,000 square-foot showroom for Lincoln vehicles. The grand opening will coincide with the 25th anniversary of its Ford franchise, which it acquired on Oct. 15, 1986. Towne’s Lincoln/Mercury franchise dates to its opening in 1969.

The new Lincoln facility will be in sync with the revamped Lincoln models that Ford Motor Co. will be debuting in the next few years as part of a sweeping brand upgrade, to include the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car. Ford already added the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid to its limousine livery fleet line-up. The mid-sized luxury sedan, which can be extended six inches by Royale Limousine Manufacturers, ranks among the most fuel-efficient luxury vehicles on the market.

Town Cars sell big
Meanwhile, operators nationwide are swamping Lincoln dealerships such as Towne with bulk orders for the 2011 Lincoln Town Car Executive L, which Ford manufactured in higher quantities this year to meet the surging, swansong demand. Bastian notes that the Town Car demand is typical of vehicle buying patterns among auto consumers: They are fiercely loyal to an outgoing model and buy up the last ones, hesitate on the new model, flirt with other vehicle options, and then finally embrace the new model.

“The MKT Town Car will be successful, but there certainly will be an adjustment period,” Bastian says. “My experience with product lines is that whenever a new one comes out, there is a rush for what people already know and like. We expect strong demand on the Town Car for a long time.”

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