Lincoln will drop the confusing three-letter series of names present on most of its models, Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s chief marketing officer and group vice president for the Lincoln brand, told Motor Authority on Monday. The 2019 Nautilus, formerly the MKX, is the first to ditch the panned naming structure. And with this information in hand, what could Lincoln's other trademarked name, Corsair, reveal?
“We will be naming all of our vehicles moving forward,” Galhotra told Motor Authority ahead of the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. “People just connect at a much more emotional level with the vehicle when it has a real name.”
The 2019 Nautilus gives an indication of the theme those real names will follow, Galhotra says.
“We’re looking at (the Lincoln brand) as a family of vehicles and therefore a family of names, with a theme of journeys and a theme of explorers,” Galhotra said. “Navigator obviously is navigator, Continental fits in that same theme. The root of the word 'nautilus' comes from 'nautis,' the Latin for 'sailor.' So Nautilus also plays into that theme."
But where Nautilus fits in with Lincoln’s new naming strategy, it doesn’t necessarily fit into the brand’s history. There’s never been a Lincoln Nautilus before, but the brand chose it despite a raft of great (and occasionally tarnished) names to draw on, Zephyr being the most prominent (and most heavily tarnished). There’s also Aviator, which appeared on a sub-Navigator, Explorer-based model in the early 2000s. Galhotra hasn’t ruled out drawing on those historical names, although he said the company won’t draw on its history just for the sake of it.
“Lincoln has a lot of really interesting names in its history,” Galhotra said. “And if some of those fit in our future products, absolutely. If they don’t, we’re not necessarily going to look at history just to find those names. But we have some great names in our history.”
So where does that leave Lincoln? Despite the baggage, Zephyr is a legendary name for the brand that harkens back to its pre-war heyday, while Aviator seems like a natural fit for the company’s new naming scheme.
It’s also worth pointing out that Lincoln trademarked the name “Corsair” a month before it reserved the rights to “Nautilus.” Automakers trademark names all the time, but the fact that Lincoln nabbed two vehicle names in one month and has already used one of them, combined with the fact that we now know the company will begin phasing out alphanumeric names makes it seem like a Lincoln Corsair could be right around the corner. Which vehicle Lincoln could attach that name to is another question, though. Ford just refreshed the MKC without changing its name, while a new Fusion/MKZ is due in 2019. But "Corsair" is more aggressive than either of those vehicles (it's basically a polite name for a pirate or pirate ship), and somehow doesn't feel right on such mainstream offerings. That has us thinking Lincoln could have something more sporting in the pipeline, although that’s purely speculation on our part.
At the very least, Lincoln’s decision is hopefully the start of a larger move in the auto industry, away from meaningless bundles of numbers and letters and onto names that actually mean something. We’re looking forward to it.
To learn about the other vehicles appearing at the Los Angeles Auto Show, head to our dedicated hub.