We expect some future Ford and Mercury vehicles also to be candidates for rear drive, especially as Ford has put its Australian operations in charge of a new global RWD platform. But it doesn’t look as though Ford is ready to export these cars from Down Under—freight costs and currency issues are among reasons cited for not consolidating all rear-wheel-drive car production there.
There are some positive signs. Lincoln sales grew nine percent in 2007 over 2006 numbers, the largest increase for a luxury brand in the U.S. last year. The lineup has been spruced up with the MKZ mid-size sedan, MKX mid-size crossover, and refreshed Navigator in the past couple years. Pending is the MKS flagship, and recent spy shots we snapped show that eventually there will be a Lincoln counterpart to the Ford Flex family vehicle.
And despite seemingly overwhelming evidence to the contrary, officials continue to insist Mercury is fine and will not be killed, suggesting that the release of a new hybrid Milan at the end of the year can be construed as commitment. They also decline to say what will happen to the Mercury Grand Marquis when its current life cycle ends its course in 2010. And it doesn’t sound like a next gen will come with frequent-flier miles from Australia.