Back during the 1950s and all the way through the 1980s, two American luxury car brands battled for supremacy. For General Motors, builder of Cadillacs and for the Ford Motor Company, builder of Lincolns, corporate prestige rested upon which automaker sold the most models each year.
For many years, a pitched battle was raised until the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. During those years, no one knew for sure who the sales winner was until well into January; that is when the final sales tallies were released. Today, the luxury car market has changed dramatically, so much so, that the storied battle between the two automakers no longer matters. So, what brought about this change? Several things, please read on for the details.
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More Competition -- Before the 1980s, Mercedes and BMW were minor players in the luxury car market. Infiniti, Lexus, and Acura were previously nonexistent brands created during the 1980s by parent Japanese auto giants, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda respectively. Add in Audi, Jaguar, Volvo, and Saab and the competition really heats up.
Higher Incomes -- The average American family’s income level has surged over the past two decades, meaning more buyers are choosing luxury brands. Why settle for a Chevy when you can afford a Cadillac? Why buy a Cadillac when there are so many other choices for consumers?
American Quality Problems -- Both Cadillac and Lincoln have had their share of quality issues over the years. Brand confusion has reigned too as Cadillac once sold rebadged Chevy Cavaliers as Cimarrons and as so many of Lincoln’s models have failed to capture the imagination of potential buyers. European brands gained in prominence as many of their models were considered to be better engineered, better built, more fuel efficient, and just as luxurious as the American brands.
Cadillac Transforms, Lincoln Wallows -- Although Mercedes and Lexus both outsell Cadillac today, Cadillac has made dramatic improvements over the past ten years while Lincoln has not. Most Lincoln vehicles sold today are simply reskinned Fords while Cadillac has been developing and successfully marketing new models that are unique to the brand. Most Cadillac products today compare favorably with BMW, Lexus, Infiniti, and Mercedes vehicles. Most Lincolns do not compare favorably with any other luxury models. All of this has been proven out in the marketplace as Cadillac regularly outsells Lincoln by more than 2 to 1.
Yes, the luxury brand battle has changed well beyond Cadillac versus Lincoln giving consumers better vehicles and more choice. While Cadillac has successfully redone its dowdy image, Lincoln has not. That, with the increased competition from foreign makes, spells all the difference in what was once a heated battle for American luxury car supremacy.
Copyright 2006 – Matt Keegan is a freelance writer covering the luxury brands as well as automotive trends. You can keep your Cadillac, Infiniti, Lincoln, Mercedes, or other fine make at peak performance by shopping Performance Market for high quality automotive parts and accessories.
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