Ford took the wraps off its new Lincoln Continental concept car as it tries to grab a bigger share of the highly profitable luxury car market. Bobbi Rebell reports.
SOUNDBITE FROM MAD MEN TV SHOW: "Nostalgia, it's delicate, but potent" And that is where Ford is betting billions - on nostalgia - as it brings back the classic Lincoln Continental brand and its luxury appeal. President and CEO Mark Fields. SOUNDBITE: MARK FIELDS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FORD MOTOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "From a volume stand point, the luxury industry around the world is going faster than the mass market industry. And when you look at the profitability, the profitability is around a third of the industry profits. Whereas the volume is, probably, here in the States, it's only about ten to 13 percent, and only six percent in China, so it's disproportionately profitable." Ford retired the name back in 2002. But when they tested designs for a new Lincoln sedan, the old name tested better than new ones, so they went with it. When it launches next year, the Continental will be the latest offering in a $2.5 billion re-launch of Lincoln. REPORTER BRIDGE: BOBBI REBELL, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Ford has ambitious plans for these cars. They target about 300,000 per year by 2020. That's about triple where they are right now. " But Reuters's transportation editor Joe White says the Continental may not bring in much revenue. SOUNDBITE: JOE WHITE, REUTERS TRANSPORTATION EDITOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's a necessary move if they are going to try to revive this brand. I mean, the Lincoln brand has revived some, but it's taken a pounding from Lexus and from the German brands. So to get back in the game in the U.S. and, equally important, China, this is a car they have to have. It's an image car. It's probably not going to move the needle very much on sales." In the United States, the brand lags well behind BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Cadillac and Lexus in market share. Lincoln's U.S. sales are up 1.2 percent for the first two months of 2015, lagging well behind the 9.2 percent increase in the overall market. And overseas, Ford is also having to contend with with the strong dollar. SOUNDBITE: MARK FIELDS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FORD MOTOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Probably a net negative to the company, but our approach is just deal with the business realities, work on our cost structure, be as efficient as we can, but make sure that our products are really compelling, so that customers are willing to pay, you know, prices for our vehicles, for the features and design that they really want and value." A lot of that ambition is aimed at China, where luxury sedans are still very hot sellers. The company is planning to open 25 dealerships there by the end of the year.