Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln brand, which last year finished in fifth place among luxury brands in the United States, expects to gain market share this year with launch of three new models, executives said on Jan. 3. Lincoln, a key contributor to Ford's earnings, finished 2001 with U.S. sales of 158,934 vehicles, down 17.7 percent from 2000, which amounted to about a 2.7 percent share of the overall U.S. market. Luxury brand leader Lexus finished 2001 with U.S. sales of 223,983 units, up 8.7 percent for the year. Boosting Lincoln's market share in 2002 will be the redesigned Navigator full-size sport utility vehicle, unveiled on Jan. 3 at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, the new Aviator midsize SUV, and the redesigned Town Car luxury sedan. Lincoln expects sales to grow in the second half of the year, after all three of those new vehicles go on sale this summer. Despite expectations that the U.S. recession will hurt car sales this year, Lincoln is confident the new Navigator will outsell the 31,759 sold last year. In the battle among luxury SUVs, Lincoln is offering more upmarket trimmings such as power running boards that quietly extend when the door is opened. Although the new Navigator is more than an inch wider than the current model, power folding side mirrors will make it an easier fit in the garage. Other additions are a power rear liftgate and power fold-flat third-row seats. The price of the Navigator will be announced later, but Lincoln officials said that, with all the new amenities, it will be slightly higher than the current model.