Luxury brand Lincoln knows it has just one chance at a successful launch of its MKZ midsize sedan
. To attract new buyers into the Lincoln family, “good enough” just won’t cut it, which is why Lincoln has scheduled a post-assembly quality inspection for each and every MKZ built.
That created quite a backlog at Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico plant, which lacked the resources to handle the quantity of post-build inspections necessary. As we reported in February, Ford was shipping cars from Mexico to Flat Rock, Michigan
, in an effort to expedite the final inspection process and get inventory in dealer showrooms.
Despite Ford’s expensive efforts to step up Lincoln MKZ deliveries, most Lincoln dealers were left without inventory as the MKZ was hyped to millions of Super Bowl viewers
. Good news is on the horizon, though: Automotive News
(subscription required) reports that the Lincoln MKZ inspection backlog is nearly over.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, says that the automaker has stopped shipping MKZs from Mexico to Michigan for final inspection, and advises that dealer inventory of MKZ sedans will be at normal quantities by month end.
It turns out there were more than just build issues with the MKZ, too. Parts shortages also contributed to the delayed launch, as did higher quality expectations for the MKZ compared to the Ford Fusion (which is also built in Hermosillo).
With inventory beginning to hit dealerships, Lincoln can only hope the MKZ is the hit product it needs. In the first two months of 2013, Lincoln sales have been dismal, totaling just over 9,000 units. That’s a far cry from Lincoln’s best sales year, 1990, when the brand moved 231,660 vehicles.
Can the MKZ keep Lincoln alive until other new products hit the pipeline? Will the car’s build quality allow it to compete with other luxury rivals? Will consumers think to shop the Lincoln brand now that the Super Bowl is a distant memory? We’ll find out in the coming months.