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Episode 860 – 2013 Lincoln MKZ Revealed, EPA “Drunk” With Power, Toyota Ridin’ the Gravy Train

April 3rd, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 7:07

Lincoln reveals its future with the introduction of the 2013 MKZ at the New York Auto Show. The U.S. EPA is pushing ahead with plans to introduce E15 fuel despite protests from automakers. If a report from CLSA turns out to be true, Toyota will be ridin’ the gravy train very soon. All that and more, plus guest host Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com talks about March sales in the American market.

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Welcome back if you’re a repeat viewer of Autoline Daily, or hello if this is your first episode.  It’s Tuesday the 3rd of April, 2012 – a beautiful spring day here in Motown.  I’m Michelle Krebs of Edmunds.com filling in for my friend John McElroy who is in Manhattan right now covering the all-important New York Auto Show.  With a report on the latest from the Big Apple, heeeeeeere’s Johnny!

(Today’s feature on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ is only available in the video-version of Autoline Daily)

And we look forward to more reports, John!  Say, what do you think of that new MKZ?  Is it a transformative product for Lincoln?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Hey, speaking of New York, make sure you check out Autoline After Hours THIS Thursday evening starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  McElroy and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo will be broadcasting from Katz’s Deli, a Manhattan institution.  Don’t miss it!  Anyway, here’s what else is going on in the automotive world.


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U.S. EPA “DRUNK” WITH POWER
The push to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline took another step forward yesterday. The Environmental Protection Agency approved the first applications for registration of ethanol to produce E15 or gas with 15 percent ethanol. Automakers have fought the increase, claiming it will damage engines, but the EPA has already done tests and has approved use of E15 in vehicles built in the 2001 model year and after.

FISKER’S FUNDRAISING
Last week we reported Fisker Automotive was scrambling to find more money after the U.S. Department of Energy refused to give it more funds.  The company was also embarrassed by the Karma Consumer Reports was testing.  If you remember, it broke down during their check-in process!  But apparently neither of these incidents have scared investors away. Bloomberg reports the company just raised 129 million dollars, which puts its total private investment at more than a billion dollars.

SHARING IS CARING
If you can get past its alien looks the Nissan Juke is a hoot to drive.  With a spunky turbocharged engine and an available manual transmission, it feels more like a sports car than a crossover.  Spreading the fun around, Renault may get a restyled version of the Juke. According to AutoExpress, the yet-unnamed model will replace its slow-selling Koleos CUV, at least in the UK market.  The Renault variant is expected to have a much less polarizing design.

RIDIN’ THE GRAVY TRAIN (subscription required)
From the devastating Tsunami, to floods in Thailand, to unintended acceleration, Toyota has faced its share of problems over the past year.  But if a report from CLSA turns out to be true, the Japanese automaker will be riding the gravy train very soon . . . and I don’t mean the dog food!  Year-over-year the company’s operating profit is expected to grow by 215 percent, hitting $14 billion!  Two reasons for the jump: the Japanese government is expected to restore subsidies, which should get sales moving again, AND Toyota’s market share in North America is forecast to grow from 12.7 percent to 15 percent in the 2013 fiscal year.  It’s great to finally see the industry recovering.

Speaking of improvements, let’s take a peek at some of last month’s sales numbers.  Sit tight; we’ll be right back . . .

NEW-VEHICLE SALES SOAR
Today, automakers will report March car sales, and we, at Edmunds.com, forecast another terrific month.

We’re looking at March car sales of almost 1.5 million vehicles. That would be a 17-percent gain from March a year ago and a 26-percent hike from February, bringing the all-important Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of sales – or SAAR– to 14.9 million vehicles.

Yes, we’re about the highest forecast around this month as we were last month. But even thought we were the highest forecast for February, we were still low when the final tally put the February SAAR at a stunning 15 million vehicles.

March is always an important industry bellwether since March traditionally sees the second highest level of sales for the year behind May. What’s even more important about this March is it confirms February’s robust sales weren’t a fluke or just the beneficiary of mild winter weather. Instead, it makes clear we are in a full-blow recovery in auto sales.

Pent-up demand caused by years of car owners holding onto their old vehicles at last is being unleashed. More readily available credit to a wider group of buyers also helps. Edmunds’ data shows the age of vehicle trade-in is higher than we’ve ever seen while average credit scores for new car buyers are at their lowest levels since the first half of 2008.

So now we can safely say it out loud: auto sales are in full recovery.

And with that we have a show!  Again, I’m Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst for Edmunds.com.  Thank you for watching Autoline Daily.  I’ll see you next time!

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

55 Comments to “Episode 860 – 2013 Lincoln MKZ Revealed, EPA “Drunk” With Power, Toyota Ridin’ the Gravy Train”

  1. HtG Says:

    Having seen the concept MKZ at the DC show, I think this car deserves to be seen in the flesh before a judgement. Photos don’t capture its subtleties. (but oh, that shnozola)
    ——-
    Hey John, I hope you get a chance to wash all that tourist off you. A stand-up in Times Square…who ever heard of such a thing.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I think Lincoln has brought a ‘knife’ to a ‘gun’; not bad, but nothing earth shattering; at least not styling-wise.

    Auto sales, full recovery; (I) think it is still to early to tell. I admit they are good (but still feel the mild winter has more to do with it than is being given credit.

    E-15; well, what’s the incentive to buy? If the price is close to E-10, (with another loss of fuel economy due to the ethanol), what’s left. If E-10 gets bagged, in favor or the new E-15, that leaves older vehicles (read owners with probably less to spend on gasoline and/or repairs due to their economic situations), and the ones that need (help with expenses the most) in even worse shape.

  3. Lex Says:

    Good Job Michelle.

    If I had to choose between a Lincoln and a Lexus, Lexus would win! Sorry Jim Farley.

    The Federal Government should give American Farmers incentives to grow more corn for ethanol. We should be working to get off the OPEC pipeline and onto our own domestic ethanol production pipeline. Brazil has ethanol as it’s fuel of choice. You mean to say they are smarter than us? The more Ethanol the US produces and is able to funnel into the gas tanks of Americans the less dependent we will be on foreign oil suppliers.

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #2 gun fight (forgot the fight part)

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #3
    Brazil’s ethanol comes from sugar cane; while I can concede more ethanol, it needs to be cellulotic.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    What unintended acceleration?? this is like the second gunman hiding behind the grassy knoll, it will never go away even though it was a fantasy that never occurred. Lincoln in Chinese means: “bells and whistles”

  7. stan skoczen Says:

    from a mkz owner,a very nice car.but what is with the antena?

  8. Jon M. Says:

    I can’t say a whole lot about the new MKZ without seeing it; nevertheless, it doesn’t look or sound like anything transformative for the brand or the industry as whole. A lot of hype and advertising may or may not add to the sales figures; otherwise I see it as much like the oohing and aahing over a once stodgy and ill-reputed Hyundai producing something relatively better. Its great compared to what they used to make, but nothing revolutionary to the class in which in competes.

  9. Bob Aubertin Says:

    WOW factor X 10 for the MKZ.” MKZ World Class Redefined” Well done Lincoln, they can now ride along side with Audi,Benz & BMW.Welcome to the executive class.

  10. john787 Says:

    Toyota getting a subsidy from it’s Government? GM gets help from our Government and what do they get? They get compared to the devil. But with this person reporting, this seems to sit pretty…of course this is the Teflon coated Toyota. I guess we are kind of use in seeing American companies getting the shaft.

    The media being a circus run by the clowns who are more interested in entertaining, than imparting factual news to the audience.

    The totally perverse attitude of the American media to denigrate anything developed, designed and built in the USA shows stupidity and ignorance, all of which gets heaps of praise, publicity and cheerleaders.

    But on the other hand, Toyota seems to get praise after passing their junk to the US market.

  11. C-Tech Says:

    The MKZ looks nice. Lincoln should retain those who are currently leasing Lincolns. We will see how the driving impressions are compared to a C-Class, or 3-Series. I doubt those who aspire for a BMW or Benz will come around – yet. If Lincoln can get the good press that Cadillac did with the CTS, then they have a shot (IMHO). The execution on the dealership end may be a bit more difficult, Lincoln dealers right now don’t make the profits that Lexus, BMW, Benz, and maybe Cadillac dealers make to reinvest in their property and personnel.

  12. C-Tech Says:

    Given the state of many older cars driving around, E15 fuel is the least of these owner’s worries. Worn brakes, tires, suspensions, and other neglected repairs are going to be greater problems in the aging U.S. fleet.

  13. C-Tech Says:

    With Toyota past its troubles, who do you think is most likely to lose market share?

  14. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Let’s not totally give Toyota ‘a pass’ on unintended acceleration; they did have a real and potentially serious problem with their floor mats. Granted the electrical fiasco was blown out of proportion (and was unconscionable, and media hyped without evidence or proof).

    #9 Bob says,
    ” WOW factor X 10 for the MKZ.” MKZ World Class Redefined” Well done Lincoln, they can now ride along side with Audi,Benz & BMW.Welcome to the executive class.”
    Not yet they can’t (and given a successful introduction of the MKZ, they’re not in the executive class yet either.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    #12 exactly, due to the economy people are putting off repairing cars, even essentials like brakes and tires, recently I was at a tire store, more than half of the customers were looking for used rubber, I asked the owner and he told me that before he never even used to stock them, now he has to and sells them right away and can’t even get the most popular sizes anymore!

  16. Michael Khoury Says:

    I really like the MKZ. If it actually has interior room (unlike the current Taurus) and offers the Hybrid for the same price like the current MKZ, it will be my next car.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Anyone out there knows of any CVT problems? it seems Nissan is getting slack for putting more CVT’s in the upcoming Altimas. I was not aware there were quality and reliability issues.

  18. Heartag0ld Says:

    That new MKZ looks soooooo Camry. Bland as can be. And that nose is just fugly. Nothing about the styling of this car conjures up a “Lincoln” image in my miniscule mind. If THIS is what they think is going to salvage the brand, well, I wish them luck, but I won’t be buying one. If I want a great car and don’t care if it’s butt ugly, Toyota & Acura already make plenty of them!

    I’d love to see the Focus Group results of this thing de-badged. Did they do any?

    Come on guys (and gals), get with the program! Show me some style!

  19. geoff Metz Says:

    I want one!! i have been waiting for almost a year for this car, cant wait!

  20. C-Tech Says:

    @ #3
    If you check the reported price for corn, it is at a high due to the Fed. Gov. requirement of 10% ethanol in fuel. I think farmers won’t need subsidies for corn for awhile. John Deere is selling every combine it can build.

  21. T. Bejma Says:

    #2 I agree with you Chuck -

    MKZ is okay, but definitely not the WOW factor. Nice to see Ford sprucing up their interiors though, that was a big deficiency for a long time.

    Still reading the “American Icon” book. The more I read, the more I believe that Mulally, although a good leader, is not worth the dough he is getting. Ford was so screwed up, any half decent leader could have come in and, with Bill Ford Jr.’s support, cleaned it up. Ford’s own leaders prior to Mulally were helping them to implode. Mulally brought a proven method from Boeing and just implemented it at Ford…

  22. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    Where’s tj? I don’t know who to believe in this crowd.

  23. Bob E K Says:

    # 10 I agree with you all the way….start supporting US owned corporations….GM products are bad mouthed before they even come out or driven…wake up America before it’s to late!

  24. HtG Says:

    People who are tough on the MKZ need to see it in the flesh, because it’s quite finely styled. There’s a long groove along the bottom length of body, that concave channel along the belt line modulates the value of the color as your eye rises, and fine creases back from the sail panel bring the rear together. I’ll try to get some shots when I go to the show.

  25. Mike S Says:

    If it is just a reworked Fusion on the same platform it is not a premium sedan. BMW 3 series, Mercedes C class, Lexus LS,GS,IS, and Cadillac CTS have all one common denominator REAR WHEEL DRIVE. When oh when will people who are supposed vissionaries/leaders of the automotive industry accept this. Even the Koreans understand this with the introduction of both the Genesis and Equis. The folks at GM are trying with the introduction of the ATS. I believe that Cadillac and Lincoln will not receive the respect that these storied brands are entitled to until they offer a full fledged rear wheel drive flagship sedan. Why fight the law of physics. Rolls Royce, Ferrari, and Bentley haven’t….

  26. Richy MM Says:

    Heartag0ld had it right. At first glance it looks like someone inflated a Camry. The MKZ was designed in a wind tunnel like everything else and as a result pretty much looks like everything else with the designers relegated to playing with the cosmetic jewelery of grills and lights. Definetly not deserving of “a break out design” designation as the old continentals.

  27. cwolf Says:

    The MKZ has a very fluid look and the back end is a real eye catcher. The push button tranny is reborn in an updated fashion and I will be awaiting it’s reviews. The 2.0 turbo 4 banger is said to get 33 mpg hwy,yet time will tell if it is enough to pull the weight; my guess is that many will opt for the 6 cyl. If it was me,I might go for the hybred which is shared with the Fusion. Even if this car sell well,it still is’nt enough for Lincoln to keep going.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    If TJ is banned because of yesterday, I’m outta here as well!

  29. C-Tech Says:

    @ #24
    HtG if i sound tough on the MKZ it is not because I don’t believe it is a good car, its more so that this is a tough segment! For the money, the MKZ has to compete with the C-Class, 3-Series, CTS, A4, TL, and ES350 (Notice none of the cars in this class has a “name”. This might allow for some competitive differentation for a bold enough marketer). If Ford is going to make Lincoln relavent in the Premium luxury segment, it really is going to have to have a “complete” game.

  30. cwolf Says:

    Corn ethanol is a bad idea at any percentage! It’s use does’nt reduce our oil dependancy one iota when compared to the added costs in food prices. Subsidizing this mistake would only worsten the matter by reducing wheat,oat and other crops,thus increasing those prices. So why pay twice? Once in giving away our tax dollars for no good reason and second,higher prices for all foods,including meat!

  31. T. Bejma Says:

    #27

    If you are throwing the ES350 (re-badged Camry), then you also should include the Buick LaCrosse, which does have a name, in this class.

  32. HtG Says:

    27 C-Tech. I’m only trying to share my own experience of the MKZ, where the photos haven’t pleased me, but the car itself is more interesting. I agree with you about the tough competition.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    #28 cwolf, it seems to be working out ok in Brazil, as we’ve been told, but sometimes you can’t believe everything you read, maybe it’s better when it’s made from sugar cane and not corn. Here in Fl we had thousands of aces of sugar cane that is not grown anymore due to lack of demand.

  34. cwolf Says:

    pedro
    Then make ethanol out of cane,if other crops can’t be grown there. But remember sugar was also subsidized for no good reason other than paying back the sector for support.

    I would’nt worry about tj.De Lorenzo would be an equal culprit to finger. Besides marketing guys think they’re above others,yet suffer from dillusions. For me,DeLorenzo brings nothing more than hot air to the table and I would’nt be crushed if he was’nt the one given the axe.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    E85 has just not caught on in the US, I have met a few people with E85 capable vehicles and just don’t use the stuff, it gets used up quicker and fear over long-term use on their vehicles.

  36. cwolf Says:

    Let me clarify my comments directed towards Peter D.
    Both my wife and I have marketing friends and are together on occasion. They are fun to be with,never short of something to say of witt or humorous and love to be the center of attension. I expect Peter is not much different on a personal level. Yet,nary a one I know is the most believable character in the crowd or reluctant to sell flood land to anyone gullable.
    I can tollerate DeLorenzo because I may have grown callous from others. I do wonder why he does not appear in person on his oun site,yet believe it still exists because he doe’nt.

  37. Jim Haines Says:

    I don’t think the MKZ is a game changer as there really are not alot of Lincoln dealers left to change the game plus wasn’t the LS going to be a game changer and they turned out to be a low selling very problematic car.

  38. Shaun Says:

    The MKZ is nice in many ways, but needs two things: A better grille, and a better name! Why is Lincoln so stuck on that ugly split grille? It’s not as bad as previous version, but still not very nice to look at. Also, the whole “MK” nomenclature is just weird. What is this, the “Mark Z”?

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The MKZ is a rebodied Fusion and, as such, it competes with Lexus ES. It will not compete with 3 Series, C-Class, and CTS, which are rear drive, and are not a rebodied something else.

    Still, if the MKZ looks good “in the flesh,” if the interior is genuinely better than the Fusion, and if the Lincoln price premium is not too high, it should sell well. I’ll reserve judgment on its appearance until I see the real thing.

  40. Jon M. Says:

    @ #14 Chuck Grenci

    I would respectfully disagree with you about the real and potential problems Toyota is alleged to have had with their floor mats. I have always and continue to put all-weather mats in my vehicles. Having also owned more than a few Toyotas, I can say now as I did then when all the hype was going on, that the whole issue about the mats was and is the biggest, most ridiculous made up propaganda ever contrived in the history of automobiles. But at least the press got something to sensationalize. As Don Henley proclaimed, they love dirty laundry!

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #33,
    E85 isn’t even available in my area, except on space center property, and that is accessible only to badged people. Even where available, E85 isn’t enough cheaper than gas to make up for the much lower mpg you get with E85.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    #38 Kit I find it curious that you have no E85 by you, have you tried the independent dealers, cause I know the major brands don’t carry it, here we have a brand called U FUEL that has a few stations that do carry it, but as I said not many takers, I wonder if anyone has done a side by side mpg comparison with E85 and E10. Yes might as well call it E10 cause that what it is! BTW I did have an issue with my xB when the car wash people neglected to hook the floor mat to the floor and it slid forward, affecting the accelerator, not enough space between floor and pedal.

  43. dave marsh Says:

    hey, at around 8:18 – in the stock dealership footage, what is the grey/silver two door coupe/convertible with the odd front facia/air dam?

    am I missing something?

  44. XA351GT Says:

    C-Tech @#13 My guess is Honda and Nissan, Honda is bland and not looked at in the same regard as Toyota . So in the battle of Bland it goes to Toyota. Nissan designs have gone polar. You either love them or hate them. Those that like them probably already bought what they wanted and those that hate the radical styling will shift to Toyota.

  45. HtG Says:

    here you go, dave marsh. It’s a Panoz Esperante.

    http://www.panozauto.com/EsperanteDetails.htm

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #39,
    I researched E85 availability a while back, just out of curiosity. None of my cars use it.

    There are several places with E85 near where I’m from in Indiana. I guess its because they raise corn there, and some of the ethanol plants are in Indiana.

    To find out where you can get E85, see:

    http://www.e85refueling.com/index.php

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just received the May Consumer Reports which tested “subcompact” cars, and they really disliked the new Versa, and especially the Yaris. They found the Yaris to be noisy, ride bad, have poor driving position, and, in general, be very “rough around the edges” by today’s standards.

    Fit is still the top car in the category, according to CR. Honda needs to leave that one alone, it seems.

  48. HtG Says:

    Were there specific complaints about the Versa? (styling better be on that list)

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #46,
    The main complaints were engine noise, poor handling for a car its size, and fit and finish. They don’t generally mention styling. I’m not sure they even mentioned that when they tested an Aztec years ago.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    These Asian oem’s seem to think that they need to design subcompacts to ride like bigger cars, thus giving them soft suspensions and numb steering, thus taking away ANY driving enjoyment ala Mini.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #47,
    Yeah, I guess they are “Americanizing” the cars, or that seems to be the intent.

  52. C-Tech Says:

    @ #51
    Is it “Americanizing” or cutting costs? If the $40 strut is great, will the $20 strut last through the warranty?

  53. Lex Says:

    @# 20.C-Tech Says:

    C-Tech I used the word “Incentives” not “Subsides” for American Farmers.
    John Deere is selling all that it can build is a good thing for American Workers and the American Economy! I want there to be more opportunites for domestic job creation.

  54. Lex Says:

    @# 5. Chuck Grenci

    I agree with your suggestion that ethanol in the US should be made from cellulotic sources.
    The Problem cuurently is a lack of support by the Oil Companies and Automakers. The Whole E85 and higher mandate from the Federal Government will go no where without consumer pressure and support. Unless Enthanol can be provided to consumers at a substanial savings or gasoline people will not give it a second thought.

  55. Brett Says:

    Does the new snout on those Lincolns seem vaguely reminiscent of the penultimate Mitsubishi Diamante model’s nose to anybody else besides me? The grille at least.