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Yet another Lincoln update: Does the new president have the keys to success?

Kumar Galhotra, new president of Ford’s Lincoln brand.

Ford

Thought about buying a Lincoln? Read on. This is perhaps instalment 4,288 in the ongoing Remake of Lincoln saga that I began in 1998.

Ford Motor's Lincoln brand has yet another new president, Kumar Galhotra. He moves over to Lincoln on Sept. 1 from his current job as vice-president of engineering. The next step in Ford's ever-accelerating push to make Lincoln a world-class luxury brand fits into a longer Lincoln chronicle that in my case dates back to when the former Lincoln-Mercury moved its headquarters from Detroit to Irvine, Calif. in 1998.

Lincoln and Mercury moved to get some space to act independently, draw in fresh talent and percolate new ideas. Alas, by 2000, Lincoln sales had fallen behind Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Cadillac, even as Ford vowed to boost sales from about 650,000 vehicles to more than one million within five years.

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Lincoln then was part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, (PAG) which later was headed by current Ford Motor CEO Mark Fields. PAG included Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo. If you're keeping score, Ford has since killed the Mercury brand (2010) and sold off Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo.

In 2000 I wrote about Lincoln "showing some signs of new life." The then-new Lincoln LS sports sedan was a very good rear-drive car with the potential to scare the big German luxury brands. Alas, the LS was starved of resources and finally faded away. Yes, I've been writing "Lincoln is rebounding" stories for half my career.

You glass-half-full types should be encouraged to hear that Lincoln's new boss is a product guy. He headed product development for Ford's Asia Pacific region from 2009 to 2013 and before that he had a senior product role at Mazda in Hiroshima from 2005 to 2008 when Ford was in charge.

Lincoln sales are up this year, but luxury vehicles overall have long been a problem at Ford. Former CEO Alan Mulally, as Automotive News points out, brought his "D-game" to luxury cars, though his overall leadership earned him an "A."

Mulally's protégé, Fields, seems intent on fixing Lincoln, thereby doing something Mulally never could. Stay tuned for instalment 4,289.

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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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