The new Lincoln Continental debuted to a ton of fanfare, only to be immediately and brutally met with a market moving swiftly away from sedans to SUVs. So rumors about the demise of the Lincoln Continental started circling a few months ago, but now it appears that they are coming closer to fruition.
Initial rumors stated that the Continental would be cancelled at the end of the run of the current model, and according to sources inside Ford who spoke to Jalopnik, that is likely to be 2020.
Users on the Blue Oval Forums appear to point to the same conclusion as one user states that shift changes at the Flat Rock Assembly plant are coming, and they claim they’ve been told that the Continental can be phased out of production by next summer.
Sources familiar with Ford product plans told Jalopnik about the possibility of the Continental being cancelled or removed from North American production, as internal documents show that the sedan has been approved for model year 2019 and scheduled for model year 2020—but there are currently no production plans past that point.
The original plan for the Continental was to move it to the new rear-wheel-drive based CD6 platform that is going to underpin the Aviator, Explorer, and next generation Mustang but it has now been removed from that discussion according to a source that spoke with Jalopnik.
According to GoodCarBadCar, Lincoln sold just 7,993 Continentals in the U.S. during the first eight months of 2017, and only sold 5,677 during the same period this year. It only sold 626 cars in August.
We asked Ford for confirmation on these changes for the Continental, and got the standard response:
The Lincoln Continental remains a key vehicle in the Lincoln lineup. It was just introduced two years ago and continues to do particularly well in China. We don’t speculate on future product plans.
The only possible saving grace for the Continental is a possible move to a factory in China, since sales there have been slightly better than what we’ve seen here in the U.S. The pilot plans for the 2020 Continental are currently in development, but suppliers have not yet been engaged to provide parts to Flat Rock Assembly, according to reports on the forum. This is what leads many internally to believe that the model will be built in China at that point.
Further adding fuel to the fire is the plan for Ford’s new commercial autonomous vehicle which is planned for the Flat Rock facility. According to a source that spoke with Jalopnik, production of this vehicle is set to commence in 2020 and will be executed by building Transit Connects at Flat Rock Assembly and then sending them across the street to a new building that will fit the various sensors and modules like the Inertial Measurement unit required for autonomous operation.
The winding down of Continental production has already started and it is affecting morale, according to another forum poster on the Blue Oval Forums. They state that they are now working less than 40 hours per week and their current goal is 420 cars per shift, with plans to drop it to 370 per week at the beginning of this month and wind it down further at the end of the month. The poster also states since sales are so low, they have likely already built 90 percent of the 2019 Continentals.
It’s a shame to see another good sedan disappear from our market to likely get replaced by another crossover or SUV. But the sales don’t lie, and selling 500 or 600 per month is not enough to keep this American luxury land yacht from sinking.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Ford was making 420 Continentals per week; it is 420 per shift.