When the new Lincoln Navigator (and Ford Expedition) debuted, it caught everyone off guard. What has once been an also-ran in the luxury full-size SUV segment was now an object of desire, boasting an interior of staggering beauty and an exterior that aims for elegance rather than a vulgar display of wealth. It won awards, including North American Truck of the Year and all of a sudden the Navigator was in high demand, and this seemed to catch Ford sitting on its hands.
Ford just can’t keep up with demand for the Navigator and Expedition, having grown complacent after years of them being relatively low-volume sellers. To combat this, Ford is investing a boatload of cash into its Kentucky truck plant to increase efficiency and further modernize the production lines there. The modernization comes courtesy of a bunch of new robots, a 3D printer to speed up part and tooling production and more robust data analytics to help find and eliminate inefficiencies.
Ford is hoping that these changes will add up to a 25 percent increase in production but in the event that that isn’t enough, it has undertaken other measures to make sure that any customer who can pony up the six figures for a new Navigator can get one. According to Automotive News reporter Michael Martinez, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has restricted the company’s manager lease program, which generally allows those who qualify to choose anything in the lineup, from selecting a Navigator or an Expedition,
This newfound popularity is definitely a boon for FoMoCo’s luxury brand after years of stagnation. The new, design-focused direction is a welcome change, and we’ve been duly impressed by both the new Continental and the Navigator. We hope that the rest of the lineup eventually gets given this new, unique and well-thought-out treatment and that it allows Lincoln to soldier on as a brand.