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Early Sales Strong for 2009 Lincoln MKS - VIDEO ENHANCED

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• In its first month on the market, the new 2009 Lincoln MKS outsold the Acura RL, Infiniti M35 and Cadillac STS. Robust early sales may be attributed to unique marketing and education efforts underway since the vehicle was introduced in November.

• Consumer events at 312 Lincoln dealerships throughout the country drew more than 25,000 potential customers to dealer showrooms.

• Customers are impressed with the MKS' design, craftsmanship, performance and class-leading technology.

SEE ALSO: Lincoln Buyers Guide

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DEARBORN, MI - August 10, 2008 - Early sales are strong for the new 2009 Lincoln MKS. In its first full month on the market, the vehicle outsold the Acura RL, Infiniti M35 and Cadillac STS.

"Customers' responses have more than met our expectations," said Pei-Wen Hsu, Lincoln car marketing manager, adding that retail vehicles are lasting an average of only five days on dealer lots before they are sold. "The Lincoln team and our dealers are very excited."

In addition to the appeal of the vehicle itself, Hsu says robust early sales may be a result of the unique marketing and education efforts that have been underway since the vehicle was unveiled at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Lincoln broke tradition by announcing pricing information and package options when the MKS was first unveiled.

Plus, the marketing team recently completed extensive dealer training programs at the top 312 Lincoln dealerships in the country. These training programs were combined with consumer events that drew more than 25,000 potential customers to Lincoln showrooms during the past three months to see the brand's new flagship sedan.

"We trained sales consultants during the day, and the dealerships hosted consumer events in the evening," explained Hsu. "Each of the events resulted in an average of three to 10 pre-orders for the MKS and generated a lot of momentum around the vehicle."

Denny LaBantschnig, owner of Denny Ford Lincoln Mercury, pulled out all the stops when he hosted a consumer event for more than 200 people at his dealership in Rolla, Missouri. It was a black-tie affair, complete with music and food, but the unmistakable star of the evening was the new Lincoln MKS.

"When we pulled the cover off of the car, you could hear a pin drop," LaBantschnig said. "Everybody loved it."

LaBantschnig says his guests - many of them drivers of competing vehicles - were most impressed by the MKS's design.

"We had people who just looked at the car and said, ‘Wow!' " he added.

Click PLAY to watch the complete introduction of the new Lincoln MKS at the LA Auto Show

Consumers were equally impressed by the class-exclusive features and options available on the MKS, such as the industry-exclusive SYNC, Easy Fuel ™ Capless fuel Filler System, SecuriCode™ Next-Generation Keypad, a premium THX-certified audio system, 20-inch wheels, heated rear seats and the voice activated navigation system with SIRIUS Travel Link™, he said.

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"Educated people understand the technology in the MKS, and they're excited about all of the things this vehicle can do," said LaBantschnig. "They love that they can get real-time weather and sports scores and even gas prices using SIRIUS Travel Link."

According to LaBantschnig, marketing efforts leading up to the mid-June launch of the vehicle had a big impact on both sales consultants and potential customers.

"This is the first time that people actually came in and trained us at the dealership. It was a very hands-on experience, and it gave us the knowledge we needed to be able to talk intelligently with our customers," he said. "It also got our staff excited and created a lot of buzz around the vehicle prior to launch."

That early buzz resulted in close to 10,000 pre-orders for the MKS, says Hsu, many of them from conquest customers.

"The Lexus ES-350 is among the top 10 vehicles being traded in for the MKS," she said.

A big factor drawing customers to the MKS is the fact that the vehicle runs well on regular unleaded gasoline, a true competitive advantage given today's skyrocketing fuel costs. With regular unleaded gas, the MKS still delivers 273 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque - and 24 miles per gallon on the highway.

"You don't have to compromise performance by using regular unleaded gas," said Hsu. "Combine that with elegant styling, class-leading technology and an attractive price point - just more than $38,000 including destination - and you have attainable luxury."

LaBantschnig says the MKS signifies the dawn of a new era for Lincoln.

"People are longing for something different. That's what sells vehicles," he said. "The MKS hits that market niche for something totally distinctive from Lincoln."