NEW YORK — Lincoln Motor Co., aiming to build on the momentum from a revamp to the larger end of its utility-vehicle lineup, is now making a big bet on its smallest crossover — particularly in a key market, China.
The 2020 Corsair, which replaces the MKC, rides on a new Ford Motor Co. front-wheel-drive platform to better compete in one of the industry’s fastest-growing segments. The compact luxury crossover features a new suspension, loads of driver-assist features and a plug-in hybrid option, although that variant won’t be ready when the Corsair launches this fall.
The MKC has been the brand’s second-best seller in the U.S., where it also draws the most customers from rival brands compared with any other Lincoln vehicle. But the compact crossover is even more vital in China, where it’s Lincoln’s top seller.
That’s why the Corsair will be the first Lincoln built in China for that market, beginning late this year.
By localizing Chinese production, as well as continuing to build the U.S. version in Louisville, Ky., Lincoln is further leaning into utility vehicles as it continues its climb back to relevancy.
“Slow and steady wins the race, and cranking out a stable of stylish SUVs with actual names shoppers can identify isn’t a bad way to build a brand right now,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds. “If Lincoln continues to build the types of vehicles shoppers want with a focus on style and quality, it has a real shot at a comeback.”
Lincoln’s first-quarter U.S. sales jumped 11 percent, including double-digit gains for all four of the brand’s utility vehicles. It’s hoping the compact Corsair, unveiled ahead of the New York auto show, will continue that trend, targeting younger buyers as well as defectors from other brands.
“It’s unapologetically Lincoln,” said Joy Falotico, Lincoln’s president. “Corsair’s addition to the portfolio means Lincoln now has a full family of SUVs to exceed the needs of our luxury clients.”