Continental sedan will get suicide doors again

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The Continental will get suicide doors in the future, a move meant to show Lincoln’s commitment to sedans.

Lincoln Motor Co.’s future product portfolio leans heavily on crossovers and SUVs, but dealers at the NADA Show were assured it doesn’t plan to abandon its sedan offerings.

Lincoln plans to add suicide doors to a future version of the Continental sedan in a move that harks back to the nameplate’s iconic past, dealers learned.

Highlights

  • Continental sedan to get suicide doors
  • Aviator crossover coming next year, with plug-in hybrid option
  • 4 additional vehicles coming post-2020

During its annual make meeting, Lincoln showed dealers a photo of the Continental with the rear-hinged doors and disclosed plans to build the model, according to multiple dealers in the room who didn’t want to be identified. The move is part of an effort to demonstrate the brand’s commitment to its car lineup.

The company did not discuss timing or details about the doors.

Continental sales have fallen 30 percent through the first two months of 2018 from the same period a year ago. Lincoln resurrected the Continental nameplate in 2016 to replace the slow-selling MKS. The vehicle marked a turning point for Lincoln. When the concept was unveiled at the 2015 New York auto show, it was the first vehicle to feature the brand’s new mesh grille that has become the face of every model.

“Continental is an important part of the Lincoln family,” a Lincoln spokeswoman said. “We have nothing to announce today relative to any future products plans.”

The spokeswoman declined to confirm the plans for suicide doors.

Somoano: Cycle central to business

Suicide doors date to many pre-World War II era vehicles. The 1961 Continental featured suicide doors, and the brand was considering them as recently as 2007, Automotive News reported at the time. It was a source of tension among designers then, and conventional rear doors won out because they were deemed more feasible for a production vehicle.

In addition to the Continental, dealers saw the upcoming Aviator crossover, which debuted several days later at the New York auto show. Joy Falotico, the newly appointed head of Lincoln, briefed the room on the company’s plans to add the Aviator and an additional SUV by 2020, as well as four other vehicles after 2020.

“The cycle plan is central to our business,” Luis Somoano, chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council and president of Doral Lincoln near Miami, told Automotive News. “They’ve put a lot of investment in that.”

Robert Parker, director of marketing, sales and service for the brand, said the redesigned Navigator and upcoming launch of the Aviator will help bring new customers to the brand, which has set a goal of 300,000 global sales by the end of the decade. Lincoln sold just over 188,000 vehicles globally last year, with U.S. sales slipping 0.5 percent to 111,159.

“There’s never been this much investment in Lincoln’s history,” he said. “The amount that’s going in really shows the level of confidence in the brand.”

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