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Lincoln Motor Company enters its final season with its leading limousine vehicle, the Lincoln MKT Town Car.
Ford production on the MKT ends in November, and the final order bank for dealers already closed on Aug. 2. The good news for operators is plenty of limo/livery MKTs should be available well into next year.
Whether operators plan to stock up on them as they did the Lincoln Town Car L when it was retired with the 2011 model year remains the one wild card, given Ford/Lincoln has yet to announce a designated successor to the MKT. The Lincoln Continental luxury livery sedan will remain in production through at least the 2020 model year production and sales cycle.
“The MKTs are not gone. It will be a while before they are gone,” says David Bastian, general sales manager for Towne Livery in Orchard Park, N.Y. “There is plenty of inventory on dealer lots. I have 100 MKTs coming.”
Bastian, who has sold limo/livery vehicles to the industry for 20 years, says the MKT has proven a popular vehicle over the last eight years given its headroom, legroom, and 39.5 cubic feet of cargo space that exceeded the trunk space of the old Town Car.
Trabb has pre-ordered plenty of MKTs and spaced them out for the coming year. “We have orders to last us up until June 2020, unless we see a tremendous rush or big order. But don’t wait. Make your purchase decisions sooner rather than later,” he warns operators.
While Trabb and Bastian are banking on a continuous flow of orders or possible surges, Bill Cunningham, VP/general manager and East Coast sales director for Acton/SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles, has scaled back some of his orders, given the uncertainty surrounding the last year of MKT sales.
“They’re not selling at this moment because many people are concerned about what’s coming next and when’s it coming,” Cunningham says. “I ended up canceling some orders.”
Cunningham credits the MKT for being a reliable seller specifically suited to chauffeured transportation service. It has few mechanical or maintenance problems and brings a good trade-in value, he adds. “Lincoln/Ford has fantastic products, but there is nothing new yet we can tell the customer about.”
Kim Johnston, the marketing manager for Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles, assures operators the OEM has plenty of 2019 MY MKTs available through dealers. She says the MKT is still part of the full line-up of Ford Lincoln chauffeured vehicles, which also includes the Continental, Navigator, Expedition, and Transit. The MKT and the entire line-up will be on exhibit at LCT East at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., Nov. 3-5.
“We’ll have inventory through 2020,” Johnston says. “Although the MKT ends production in the fourth quarter, to the customer it will be seamless as if there is a 2020 model year MKT.”
Despite media speculation about the Lincoln Nautilus or Aviator CUV/SUV-model vehicles as possible successors to the MKT, Ford/Lincoln has not chosen one. “We have a lot of things in the works, but it’s way too soon to comment and there’s nothing we can communicate at this time,” Johnston says.
While the MKT ends with the 2019 MY, the Lincoln Continental will be around for the entire 2020 MY. Once again, media reports cite a production run through 2021, but as Johnston explains, the automaker only confirms production and sales availability one model year at a time.
For operators, Continental orders and sales will be business as usual since Lincoln officially unveiled the fourth-generation Lincoln Continental to the industry on Feb. 29, 2016 at the International LCT Show at the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas.
“When the Continental goes away in 2020, the dealers will most likely follow the same ordering cycle,” Bastian says. “We will stock up to make sure we have enough inventory to offer Lincoln sedans to customers who want them.”
When the final words are written on the Lincoln MKT Town Car, they’ll have to include misjudged, respected, and sturdy, with a nice personality.
From the outset, it had a tough role to fill. The venerable and storied Lincoln Town Car sedan had been the livery staple since the late 1980s, morphing through modern limousine industry history with successive body styles. There was no mistaking on the road what a black Lincoln Town Car, and especially the six-inch stretched L model, was all about.
A team from Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles first presented and detailed the MKT to the industry on Sept. 29, 2010, during the LCT Leadership Summit at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. A prototype limousine/livery version of the MKT Town Car was formally unveiled on Feb. 14, 2011, during the opening show floor reception of the International LCT Show at the Paris Las Vegas.
When Ford announced the end of the Town Car with the 2011 MY, operators nationwide experienced a Biblical-level gnashing of teeth, as they demanded the reliable stalwart be kept while stock-piling sedans so they could run them in their fleets well into the mid-2010s. U.S. automakers overall had to phase out large platform sedans due to stringent federal fuel economy standards seeping into automotive industry regulations.
What’s more, the MKT looked nothing like its predecessor, the sleek wide road yacht that had defined limousine service for decades. Some operators derisively referred to the M-K-T as “Moms, Kids, and Teenagers,” given its titled station wagon frame and styling rounded out with an angular bumper-less humpback rear.
For a livery vehicle with a rough start, it sure had to earn its keep and trust among operators. Despite enduring rampant criticism at the outset, the Lincoln MKT Town Car remained the top-selling Ford/Lincoln livery vehicle throughout its nine years on the scene, according to internal annual numbers viewed by LCT during that period. It gained a respectable plurality of all livery sedan vehicles sold during this decade. Operators came to respect its reliable, durable, street-hardy performance.
Meanwhile, the stretched limousine versions of the MKT proved attractive to the industry with its two extra inches of headroom, which alleviates some of the "limo crawl" factor for J-seat passengers and the added rear cargo space.
Related LCT article: Straight Talk On The MKT
As far as Lincoln line-up, the MKT has been the strongest seller since the Lincoln Continental Town Car,” Trabb says. “A lot of clients have come back and said they did not like it at first, but it’s held up better than they thought.”
What the MKT lacked in traditional Town Car amenities and attributes, it makes up for with more headroom, cargo space, higher rear seats that recline 10%, advanced technology, easier entry-exit for passengers, and an AWD option that proved ideal for snowy conditions and ski-trip clients. Like the former Town Car sedan, the MKT clearly communicates through its distinctive look that it’s a luxury ground transportation vehicle, and a definite cut above all the compact vehicles skittering around the streets in service of TNCs like Uber and Lyft.
“The Ford team built a great livery-designed car that meets the needs of operators,” Cunningham says. “We’ve had great success with MKT. Ford did great job pricing and incentives and made it affordable.”
Related LCT article: Big Changes Coming To Fleet Vehicles
Related Topics: Acton SoCal Penske Professional Vehicles, Barry Trabb, Bill Cunningham, Complete Fleet & Limousine Sales, David Bastian, dealerships, Ford, Lincoln, Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles, Lincoln MKT, Lincoln MKT stretch limousine, Lincoln MKT Town Car, Lincoln Town Car, Lincoln-Continental, new vehicles, OEMs, Towne Livery, vehicle production
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