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Report: Ford Designer Says Lincoln "Not True Luxury" Brand Yet

J Mays critiques Lincoln.

Ford design chief J Mays told The Detroit News that Lincoln is "not true luxury," but said the brand could improve its image within a decade. That's despite a concerted effort from Lincoln to reinvent itself as a worthy competitor to German luxury brands.

"No, we're not true luxury… We're in an investment stage with Lincoln. We've probably got a 10-year investment to make," Mays told The Detroit News.

However, Mays promised that Lincoln has a "whole list of things" it will add to future cars to help distinguish them more from Ford vehicles. Citing examples like the accordion-pull air vent controls in Bentley cars, Mays said that Lincoln will use unique touches to define its brand. He said that Lincoln could build on the push-button transmission and new interior design in the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, for instance; product planners also previously told us that the MKZ's giant panoramic sunroof could become a signature item in future Lincolns.

"Every brand needs to have a DNA and a unique selling point and things in the vehicle that make you think, 'That's that particular brand,'" Mays said.

Ford and Lincoln have tried to improve the luxury brand's image and ramp up its sales, but so far haven't found much success. So far this year, the entire Lincoln brand has sold just 45,207 cars, a figure beaten by many individual Ford products. The Ford Fiesta, for instance, reported 45,831 year-to-date sales.

After launching the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, the brand also attempted to renew its image by changing its name to the Lincoln Motor Company and launching a new advertising campaign highlighting some of its heritage models. Lincoln has also announced its Black Label treatment, which will debut on the 2015 Lincoln MKZ (pictured above) before spreading to other models. Like Audi Exclusive or BMW Individual, the Black Label treatment allows buyers to pick upscale interior appointments like white leather. Lincoln also plans to expand its reach to the Chinese market next year.

On top of that, Lincoln plans at least two more new cars in the coming years. A compact crossover, based on the Lincoln MKC concept shown in Detroit, is expected late next year, and a compact sedan, which could serve as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, is expected in 2015.