…while Lincoln launches in UK and Probe faces the axe

Ford is to launch its classic American car brand the Lincoln in the UK in 1998 and is preparing to axe its unpopular Probe coupé, replacing it with the Cougar, according to informed sources.

The impending introduction of the luxury car brand, which will be advertised by Young & Rubicam, raises profound questions about Ford’s future branding strategy for its network of UK dealerships, and the role of the Ford marque.

Observers say the company must decide if the Lincoln will be called the Ford Lincoln, or just the Lincoln, for example, and also determine how dealerships selling the new cars will be branded.

It is believed the company is also considering diminishing the Ford marque at some dealerships in favour of promoting specific car brand names.

The Lincoln will be positioned in the luxury car sector but will be less upmarket than Ford-owned Jaguar. One source says: “This is a piece of Americana that will appeal to younger drivers than the Jaguar target market.”

The Probe, a joint venture with Mazda, has failed to make a significant impact in the UK market and is expected to be replaced by the Cougar in about a year’s time.

Ford describes the plans as “purely speculative”.

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