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Lincoln Wants Major Dealers To Permanently Divorce From Ford

Sales / 34 Comments

Because luxury and mainstream vehicles don't mix.

A few years ago, many auto industry analysts were writing off Lincoln completely. Ford's then supposed luxury division was selling nothing more than relatively poorly rebadged Fords and, unlike Buick and Cadillac, failed to find an identity in an already crowded market. Jump forward to today and Lincoln is booming, thanks to much-improved designs, its general image, high-end Black Label vehicles, and Matthew McConaughey. This dramatic improvement has earned Lincoln the respect from competitors and Ford management alike. And now, according to Automotive News, it's the latter than wants to separate Lincoln and Ford dealerships completely.

Lincoln and Ford management has reportedly asked its top 30 US Lincoln dealers to build stand-alone stores. This goes against a previous request from a few years ago to consolidate the brands. As a result, many joint Ford-Lincoln dealerships were housed under one roof. Given Lincoln's luxury rebirth, executives now want stand-alone stores in order to better challenge competitors.

Remember, Ford and Lincoln buyers are often very different types of customers; the latter sometimes wouldn't be caught dead in a Ford. And it's for that reason, among others, Lincoln executives want stand-alone stores. The report goes on to add that Lincoln has some about 150 dealers in the specific 30 markets that make up 70 percent of auto industry's luxury sales.

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Fortunately, about half of those dealers have built or are in the process of building stand-alone stores without being requested to do so. That alone, Lincoln executives claim, is further evidence of the brand's growing strength. But what about the remaining Lincoln dealerships that have yet to commit to a new and separate building?

Lincoln wants those 78 remaining Ford-Lincoln dealers to commit to new construction by next July, and for construction to be done by July 2021. "Customers expect the environment to be equal to the product," Robert Parker, Lincoln's director of marketing, sales and service, told Automotive News. "They want to buy a luxury product in a luxury environment." Already this fall, Lincoln will launch the newly renamed MKX crossover, the Nautilus, and later next year the three-row crossover Aviator will arrive.