The 1960s Continental was viewed as quintessentially American (whether positively or negatively depended on who was doing the viewing). Given this heritage, the natural conclusion would be that Ford is reintroducing the Continental to reconnect with a new generation of American car purchasers who aspire to a luxury car. Au contraire—it turns out that, while Ford will not turn down uncle Marvin from Scarsdale or cousin Bob from Beverly Hills, the market that most interests Ford, and probably served as the commercial justification for the re-launch, is China. As stated by the New York Times:
“Full-size sedans can be highly profitable, particularly for option-laden models that ooze luxury. Ford estimates the global market to be approaching two million sales a year, with much of the future growth coming from rich Chinese buyers with chauffeurs.”Ford, whose Lincoln luxury brands, heretofore sans the Continental, has amounted to sales of only 100,000 units per year, almost all in the U.S., is pinning its hopes on finally succeeding in the luxury car field on a defunct brand in a car market that did not effectively exist at the time of the brand’s heyday (think Cultural Revolution in China).
This Kat suspects that other car manufacturers will be carefully watching how Ford will fare in its efforts to bring the Continental brand to China. More generally, brand professionals will take careful note on whether it is possible to resurrect the “heritage” of a defunct brand in a market light-years removed from the brand’s original stomping grounds. There is only one issue that still puzzles this Kat-- how many streets in Shanghai or Beijing will find themselves too narrow or crowded for the on-coming onslaught of Continental cars?