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Lincoln Sales Benefit Greatly From New, Standalone Dealerships

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Back in 2019, Ford Authority detailed the rollout of the Lincoln Commitment Program, an initiative centered around placing standalone dealerships within 30 competitive U.S. markets that Lincoln, at the time, deemed essential to its future. Existing franchises weren’t exactly thrilled about the move, as it required them to outlay solid amounts of cash for showroom upgrades, a risky proposition that could have backfired if the new facilities weren’t well received by customers, or if dealers weren’t able to recoup associated costs. However, a new report by Automotive News reveals that luxury car buyers appreciated the new showrooms, and that their embrace of the stores helped keep Lincoln sales somewhat afloat in a tough year for upmarket vehicles.

Nationwide, 23 standalone Lincoln dealerships opened in 2020. In 2021, 11 more standalone Lincoln stores will open, and 40 additional stores are projected to open in 2022. Combined, that means about half of the 150 dealers Lincoln was looking to convert to standalone stores have made the switch, or are planning to do so in the near future. Opening up an entirely new showroom doesn’t come cheap for these dealers either, as the owner of Lincoln of Cutler Bay spent a substantial $23 million to get his showroom up to spec.

Paired with the ongoing pivot away from physical sales as dictated by COVID-19, investing in a sparkly new showroom may not seem like the greatest investment at the moment, but according to the latest Lincoln sales figures, it is paying off for the luxury brand. For 2020, retail sales at these standalone dealers jumped a substantial 25 percent, compared to a slight 0.5 percent for Lincoln as a whole. This seems to suggest that standalone Lincoln showrooms without a Ford-branded attachment perform better than ones that combine both the two FoMoCo brands.

It makes sense why luxury customers would prefer standalone Lincoln showrooms. In the 30 U.S. markets Lincoln identified as being key to the new pivot, the luxury brand isn’t just competing with cross-town rivals like Cadillac, where franchise owners sometimes bundle GM’s flagship brand with its less premium counterparts like Chevrolet. It’s also going head-to-head with luxury automakers like Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Land Rover, well-established brands where franchise owners could always focus on offering a more elevated buying experience for customers.

Fortunately, the Lincoln sales model has been tailored to these new luxury shoppers for quite some time, as the brand has offered standard pickup and delivery on all new vehicles since the 2017 model year. That service is one of the reasons why Lincoln placed first on the 2020 J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index. Paired with more modern, standalone stores, it seems like Lincoln is well positioned to gain market share in 2021 and beyond.

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Written by Edward Snitkoff

Ed owns a 1986 Ford Taurus LX, and he routinely daydreams about buying another one, a fantasy that may someday become a reality.

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  1. This is an interesting article. I’m surprised. My Ford dealership sells Lincolns. They also sell Subarus and used to sell Mercury’s. The Cadillac dealership nearby is a standalone but that’s only because GM stopped making Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs. What is the main reason people buy luxury cars? Honestly I think it’s to show off. “Look at me, I have money” whoopie!”

    • But that’s your opinion as I’m guessing you don’t place yourself in the “look at me I have money” category. Some people who can afford it enjoy the luxuries and incredibly advanced technologies of high end vehicles. For example, I likely spend more on vehicles percentage to income than the average person but I do so for reasons NOT even close to your suggestion of “look at me I have money” rather because I spend a lot of time in my car and the luxuries and tech features of high end vehicles are worth my money!

      • Yes you do! You love to show off even if you have to live above your means. I choose not to advertise my wealth. But I have to say, thet Corsair looks pretty nice. Maybe I’ll change my thinking and live a little. Good luck!

  2. Lincoln dealership should have never been combined with Ford in the 1st place. Customers buying luxury brand want a luxury experience.Mercedes or BWM wouldn’t do that so why would Lincoln? Another mistake Ford CEO made in the past that cost the company double the money that could have been spent building a RWD suicide doors Continental and Mark Coupe. Common Sense over ride Book Sense ever time

    • Yes, Lincoln-Mercury was better because Mercurys were at least middle-range. Chrysler-Plymouth dragged Chrysler down, making it necessary to declare Imperial a separate brand–but then canceling it.

    • I AGREE – Totally
      In a way the mix cheapened Lincoln and bumped up Ford a teenie bit (just my opinion – we all have them)

  3. Lincoln cancelling ALL sedans is their biggest mistake. Probably all existing Lincoln sedan owners will switch to Cadillac, Lexus, Infiniti, Audi, Mercedes, or BMW when their sedans are up for replacement. Going into a Lincoln dealership and having only a pick of 4 SUV’s and ZERO sedans is ridiculous.

  4. One would think that special means special. Certainly if one is trying to appeal to a certain customer who views himself or herself in a certain way, having your premier brand stand alone is kind of a no brainer. I agree with all the comments above focusing on the perceived exclusivity of the brand.

    After all, perception is reality! Marketing 101!

  5. The only pathway forward for the Lincoln luxury brand is stand alone dealerships with customer amenities that rival Lexus, BMW or Mercedes; here’s hoping FMC stays the course to make this happen. My dealership is a stand alone and offers exceptional customer waiting areas and thoughtful small touches in amenities beyond the usual found in a Ford, Chevy or Toyota dealership.

    The absence of sedans from Lincoln is worrisome as a fan of the brand but if they were selling they wouldn’t have been discontinued. On the other hand, I think Lincoln needs at least “a” luxury RWD coupe, convertible, or small sedan in the showroom. In years gone by, it was said many visited showrooms drawn in to see the convertible or sport coupe, and drove out in a new SUV to accommodate the three kids and two dogs. I feel new leadership at FMC will re-visit the sedan at least, but will it sell against the now assumed greater prestige of a comparably priced BMW or Mercedes?

  6. Lincoln DOES NOT BECOME ITS ON LUXURY BRAND WITHOUT A FLAGSHIP LUXURY SEDAN. Something AMAZING not a Fusion / Taurus with a Continental badge on it, that was done in the 90’s and 2017-20 that don’t sale. Customers want a RWD, Suicide doors, Luxury Sedan think 2002 Lincoln Concept. Then a Luxury MARK Coupe and Convertible can follow

    • You’re silly, they have rebranded and redesigned. They are everywhere on the roads again. Open your eyes, or maybe educate yourself at their website. They are recieving rave reviews. They did make Fords badges with Lincoln in the past, that is no longer.

      • Lincolns are still considered rebadged Fords because of FMC’s repeated failures to convince the public otherwise. That’s why Lincoln’s sales have consistently been below 115,000 units annually since 2008, compare that with Mercedes-Benz’s averaging sales of more than 300,000 units/year since 2010. Did not use be this way, in 1990 Lincoln sold 231,660 units compared that with Mercedes-Benz’s 78,375, how times have changed.

      • What’s silly is you mistaking other models for being Lincoln’s. I’ve seen 10 new Navigator in a year, only 4 Aviator, the Continental was a 400hp joke Ive seen 3 none where top models, the MKZ is its best seller because you can’t tell a 2013 from a 2020 model which just been killed off. Ford has the FORD GT LINCOLN don’t have a FLAGSHIP until they get one it’s just a over priced Ford SUVs I don’t care what it looks like

  7. Lincoln has become a top notch Domestic Luxury Brand to be proud of. I haven’t purchased one yet but won’t be long. My mother is on #2 in 3 years. Her favorite car ever and she’s had many, the Mkc. Next will be the Corsair

    • Good luck on next purchase, Lincoln comes in dead last in reliability according to the latest Consumer Reports Annual Reliability Report.

      • Close to 30,000 miles on my 2019 MKC and and I’ve had zero issues. Only back to the dealer for oil changes and tire rotation. And they pick it up and leave a loaner.

        The 2016 MKZ Hybrid my MKC replaced, had 40,000 miles with nothing more than a bad sending unit for the trunk release which drained the battery, once. Otherwise…trouble free.

        Now that I think about it…I’ve spent less in repair for my last three Lincolns combined than what I paid to have the A/C serviced in my last Mercedes.

        I wish I had bought out the lease on the MKZ Hybrid. That was a beautiful car and the 42 combined MPG didn’t suck. I really do miss that one.

        • Unfortunately, other Lincoln owners did not have the same success you did. I also wish you kept the MKZ Hybrid, it was and still is a great vehicle. My 2004 Mercury Marauder other than Air Ride Compressor issues, did not have problems until the odometer crossed 100,000 miles.

  8. I happen to own the Lincoln MKS Ecoboost AWD and I’d put that car up against anything out there. The Bridge of Weir leather, real wood trim, spirited twin turbo, THX audio, panoramic roof, with all wheel drive is a masterpiece and may be the platform of a Taurus but that’s where it ends.

  9. Standalone branding is essential….however the company will struggle if the bean counters continue to meddle in product planning. Without a ‘halo’ car,…. yes car, there is just not enough special sauce in the mix. Think NSX with Acura and their bold new double wishbone suspension TSX type S. Without the mix, Mercedes and BMW and ‘gulp’ Hyundai will eat Lincoln’s lunch…. which is sad because Lincoln can make a leading edge sports car for the only purpose of being their ‘halo’ statement and showroom ‘hook’. I wish…..

  10. Absolutely, a friend of mines father has one and loves it. The MKZ is beautiful and I’ve considered it as I’m really a sedan guy stuck in SUV mode for some reason. I started with Ford for me w/ a brand new loaded AWD New Design (at the time) Explorer and it was the single most impressive vehicle I’ve owned and I’ve had many, including some entry level Mercedes Benz models. C & E Class. With the Lincoln’s my mother has had which I put her in, I’ve been impressed beyond belief. I wish she didn’t replace her 1st Mkc w/ a 2nd one as it’s Corsair time for her at 75 yrs old the CoPilot 360 is a comforting well….. Co Pilot. Sooner than later I think …. and a nautilus or aviator for me.

  11. Cadillac offers 3 sedans and they sell. Performance and Luxury. Lincoln had one. The MKZ V6 400HP. Black monochrome package grille, wheels. Nice. Not good enough for Ford though. They needed to Hermosillo to bang out the over hyped Bronco sport. So bye bye MKZ. Bye Bye Fusion. Sedans bad. SUV’S good. Simply its bad business practice.

  12. With respect, what a silly statement. These companies put millions into studies, and they have determined that cars don’t sell like SUVS & Trucks! I started as a salesman and then F&I Mgr at a Dodge Dealer in late 90’s early 2000’s that sold 80-120 units per month. 5 were cars, the rest were Ram Trucks, Dakota Trucks, & Durango’s. So bad business practice it’s not, smart business it is! I’ll miss the MKZ as well, but if you look around, 90% of Lincoln’s are Crossovers, mid & full size SUVs. They lose money on sedans but you suggest for good business practice, manufacture & sell them anyway?

  13. As a recent owner of a Lincoln Mkz..I can tell you it is the nicest car I have ever driven. It is not about showing off, as the guy above said, it is about driving a car I enjoy and has exceeded my expectations. I love the interior and the comfort. Not to.mention the safety features. I am not a fan of any SUV size type and when the day comes, I will be forced to look at other brands that make a sedan.

    • I already have, I used drive Mercury sedans for 30 years, enjoyed all of them, now I drive a 2018 Dodge Charger GT Plus.

  14. With respect Todd…. any MKZ owner just got pushed to Cadillac, Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Genisus to renew. More to the point, not having a a halo car to hook market attention, Lincoln never showcases their leading edge tech and performance that makes its way down the food chain… Acura will never sell a ton of NSX, but combined with their racing program…. their customers always look to the NSX while they buy the SUV. Lincoln sadly is still being a follower, not a leader in a segment that it could dominate in the domestic category. Full respect to your sales stats, but just being a truck line is not what Lincoln is/can be. Thanks for your thoughtful comments… i get it!

  15. And that’s a choice Lincoln knows you will have to make and has considered the loss of sedan business worth the focus on the SUV market.

  16. Lincoln is up tremendous %’s and their marketing & design team has been the main focus of the industry lately particularly domestically.

  17. Honestly that MKZ from the early 2010’s was pretty for a ‘luxury vehicle” a rebadged Fusion. The Mercury Zephyr was another rebadged Fusion. The Fusion was good car, but the so-called luxury touches were half-assed.

  18. Grammar challenges. “It don’t”? Mkz Grill was very different in 2012 than 2020. Hugely misleading remark.

  19. Lincoln’s truly have become a Strong Domestic Luxury Brand! They don’t claim to compete directly with Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, etc but they make
    Cadillac’s look silly and cheap and offer a superior domestic product with Looks FINALLY, and reliability. Let’s face it, most brands are reliable and dependable by 1990’s standards. If you don’t keep a car longer than 5 years, anything is reliable and dependable but Cars have always been an intensely debated conversation. They are likely the 2nd largest purchase in the average persons life no matter how many times we trade and do it again, personal preference is a thing nobody is willing to tolerate in this conversation, everyone has to be right, and shoot off their opinion as non biased fact for some reason. Yes, this includes me! Go Lincoln!

    • Lincoln was the 1st American Luxury brand to have a full-size SUV Navigator. Today Lincoln has turn into a Buick level brand while Cadillac Escalade is the king of luxury SUV sales truth be told Lincoln should be above Audi, BMW, Mercedes in America Luxury right today. The CEO’s are spending big money and making huge mistake with this brand. Had Ford let Lincoln bring out the 1st Flagship EV Continental sedan, instead of a Mustang SUV. Lincoln would have made 200,000k per order like Ford have with Bronco and both Brands would get a lot of customers Cadillac will a luxury EV b4 Lincoln, Who’s making Who look silly now???

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