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Ford CEO: Luxury Market Has Room For Lincoln

Mulally: We helped our reputation and our credibility because of what we did with Ford. We couldn't have done this without Ford. They know that we're serious about it. We know how to do it.

AP: How long will Lincoln's turnaround take? When will you start making a dent in the Germans' dominance of the luxury market?

Farley: We had the benefit of seeing how the luxury industry changed after the recession, because we were imagining and executing all these products right after that. And what we found in the recession was a fundamental reset button on price points, on expectations, on why people buy a luxury car â¿¿ to treat themselves rather than to show off. We are seeing that play out right now. Like for example, when I was with another brand, more than 25 percent of our sales were with a high-end, rear-wheel-drive sedan. Today, that vehicle's less than 10 percent of their sales. The recession fundamentally changed the sales.

Mulally: It's just a huge change in the number of people who want premium but they want affordable premium. That's the answer to your question, because you've got these guys up here (holds hand up high) and you've got these huge numbers in between.

Farley: And on the time side, we think of it kind of like "Get Smart," where you're walking through all those doors. The first step of the journey requires the transformation of the lineup, all new products, completely differentiated, exclusive drivetrain and exclusive dealership facilities and people who are only selling Lincolns. And until you do those, you really aren't starting the journey to being a really premium player. We are totally focused on that first step. I don't know how many doors â¿¿ opportunities â¿¿ we have. Our sights are not to be the biggest, to sell 200,000 to 300,000 units. That's not our goal. Our goal is to take the solid footing we have from Lincoln and now start that march toward a really premium brand.

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