One big gripe people have about hybrids is they cost a few grand more than similar conventional models. It’s the so-called hybrid premium, and critics say you’ll have to drive a gazillion miles to recoup it in saved fuel. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid tosses that argument on its head.
The gas-electric luxury sedan will have the same base price as its V6 gasoline sibling — $35,180, including destination charges — when it rolls into showrooms this fall. Ford boastfully says it is “making automotive history” here. Perhaps. That depends upon whether the pricing scheme will be SOP if Lincoln expands its hybrid line.
“If they make this a trend, it will be huge,” says Aaron Bragman, an industry analyst with IHS Global Insight. “It will differentiate Lincoln from other brands.”
Even if Lincoln limits pricing parity to the MKZ Hybrid, it is significant because it gives consumers another reason to check out a car that, with an EPA-certified 41 mpg, is the most fuel-efficient luxury car in the country. And don’t forget the Lexus HS 250h hybrid luxury sedan starts at $34,650. That’s surely a big part of Ford’s pricing strategy.
Bragman doesn’t expect to see Ford bring pricing parity to the Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid. The gap between Ford and Lincoln has been getting smaller with regard to quality and luxury, so Ford may be increasing the value of the MKZ Hybrid to entire consumers to check out a car that shares its gas-electric drivetrain with the Fusion Hybrid.
“It’s an experiment,” Bragman said. “A really interesting experiment.”
It remains to be seen whether other automakers will bring pricing parity to hybrid models based on conventional models.