DETROIT – With the new 2017 Lincoln Continental sedan going on sale next year, does that suggest Lincoln will eventually abandon its “MK” naming strategy, as used in the MKC, MKX and MKZ models?
No way, Lincoln’s global marketing and sales boss, Matt VanDyke, told Edmunds in a recent interview.
Lincoln’s model line through 2020 will be composed of models with the “MK” designation, as well as three new vehicles with conventional names, such as Continental.
“One of the things that we decided when we were developing the vehicle that we decided to call Continental is that if you have an iconic name in the stable, there is no good reason not to use it,” VanDyke said. “Navigator is something that we always held on to. We didn’t change the name of that for an ‘MK’ naming series.”
Besides Continental, VanDyke said Zephyr and Aviator are other names that could reappear on future vehicles.
Lincoln sold a Zephyr model from 1936-’40 and revived the name in the 2006 calendar year for a new sedan. A year later, the Zephyr name was dropped, and that car was renamed the MKZ. Aviator was a short-lived sport-utility offered from the 2003-’05 model years that shared underpinnings with the Ford Explorer.
Other names in Lincoln’s history include Versailles, Cosmopolitan, Premiere and, of course, Town Car.
VanDyke said that because of the public’s familiarity and favorable opinion of the MKX and MKZ, there was no reason to change the names of those vehicles. The redesigned 2016 MKX went on sale in September, and a new model, a compact crossover SUV, MKC, joined the lineup in April 2014.
“We don’t step back and say, ‘Well, tomorrow, let’s change it,'” he said.
The MKZ is Lincoln’s top-selling model. The restyled, re-engineered 2017 MKZ was introduced this month at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. Sales begin in the summer.
However, not all of Lincoln’s “MK” models will survive. Lincoln announced earlier this year that the MKS sedan will be phased out some time next year. Analysts expect the slow-selling MKT crossover SUV to be phased out in 2017 or 2018.
VanDyke said many luxury brand shoppers are confused by the industry’s use of alphanumeric model names, which is the reason why some of Lincoln’s future models will have conventional names.
Edmunds says: Name recognition is everything in the auto industry, so it makes sense for Lincoln to hold on to familiar names as well as adding more conventional or vintage names later this decade.