Lincoln is ending production of the famed Continental sedan at the end of 2020, just four years after reintroducing the vehicle following a 14-year hiatus. Why? Because Americans have fallen irretrievably in love with SUVs and trucks over the last few years.
As Automotive News first reported, Lincoln will continue to sell the car in the US and Chinese markets into next year. Lincoln has long been rumored to be interested in building vehicles in China but would not say if it plans to shift production of the Continental there. “Sedans continue to be important to the luxury market in China, and we will have more to say about our plans in the future,” a company spokesperson told The Verge on Wednesday.
The decision to pull the Continental from the US market so soon may be jarring, but it’s certainly not surprising. Lincoln’s parent company, Ford, has already abandoned all of its sedans save for the Mustang. Everything else that Ford now sells here is an SUV or a truck. Lincoln has been moving in this direction, too, with the company announcing earlier this year that it would no longer make the MKZ sedan.
The Continental peaked in its first full year of sales, with Lincoln selling 12,012 of them. The company only sold 8,758 Continentals in 2018, and just 6,586 in 2019. In contrast, Lincoln sold 18,656 Navigators — the company’s top-tier full-size SUV — in 2019 despite a base price that’s $30,000 higher than the Continental’s.
Automakers like to say they’ve shifted their lineups to feature more SUVs and trucks because consumers prefer the higher ride height, the extra cabin space and added utility, and the ease of ingress and egress. And those things are true, but these companies also make far more money on each SUV sold than they do on sedans. So even if someone wants to buy a sedan, the automakers are incentivized to push consumers into bigger vehicles. This has resulted in huge spikes in both greenhouse gas missions and pedestrian deaths.