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Ford Authority

Lincoln Dealer Network Will Shrink Under New Strategy

As was the case with Ford dealerships, Lincoln dealers were also recently asked to opt in or out of FoMoCo’s new Model e Certified program, which will allow those entities to sell all-electric vehicles moving forward. Ultimately, the majority of the Lincoln dealer network opted in to the program, which has since been revised following some feedback, as well as some controversy over its requirements. However, with the luxury brand’s sales on the decline for three straight years now – prompting it to skip the New York International Auto Show this year – its dealer network will also continue to shrink, according to Automotive News.

Former Lincoln president Joy Falotico retired back in December after holding that role since 2018, and has since been replaced with Dianne Craig, who noted that the luxury brand needs to “get our mojo back,” a process that involves a revamped product lineup, an electrification strategy, and shrinking its existing dealer network in an effort to make it relevant again. “We have too many dealers,” Craig said. “If we’re going to be a successful luxury brand, we need brand-exclusive facilities. Most of the dealers we have are still dualed. We love them as our Ford partner, but we need to focus on having that brand-exclusive experience.”

Lincoln had around 637 dealers as of the start of 2023, along with 145 standalone stores, though Craig hinted that the total number of Lincoln dealers should come in at a little more than half that, or roughly 356 – which is, coincidentally, the number that have signed up for the new Model e program. “At the end of the day, all I know is we have too many,” she said. “As we evolve to EVs with the dealers that signed up with our EV tenets, it’s probably in the right snap bracket to where we ultimately need to go, and we’ll work really closely with the dealers to get there.”

“I’ve had many conversations with dealers over the last four months, many that are my personal friends, that don’t want to give up the brand because they love the brand,” Craig added. “But … if there’s not an industry there to serve, does it really make sense for them to go on this next evolution with the investments they’ll have to make for EV? Or just focus on Ford? We want to do the right thing for them as business partners.”

We’ll have more on this soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Lincoln news and ongoing Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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Comments

  1. JimL

    Yeah they’ll shrink, because no one is going to buy a Chinese-made Lincoln (Nautilus).

    Reply
    1. The Retired Viking

      I agree. Who does Lincoln think they are? Buick?

      Reply
    2. Dennis

      I totally agree. To be a successful stand alone luxury brand they need products. To drop one of their four current SUV’s and import a Chinese product will not help. I don’t think my local BMW or Mercedes dealers will have a Chinese 5 series sitting in the showroom soon.

      Reply
  2. Mororpsychology

    Outcome based double talk from Craig. She wants to shrink the dealer network so she is dealing with only a handful of dealer groups carrying the Lincoln brand. Meanwhile, Lincoln dealers dualed with Ford-E will have BEV infrastructure put in place to support Lincolns as well, but there lies the problem; diluted exclusivity, having to share the showfloor with Mach-e’s. Lincoln will become a regional niche brand sold pretty much in the Central Time zone in any significant numbers.

    Reply
  3. Joe

    Most Lincoln owners do not want a EV, so I don’t know what they will really have to sell to some of the older buyers who don’t drive a lot and like their ICE vehicles.

    Reply
  4. James

    If they kept the MKZ and Continental, sales would have been much higher at the end of 2022. Why can’t Lincoln give us want we want to buy rather than giving us vehicles we DON’T want to buy. Duh. no brainer. There is no reason the S650 Mustang can’t spread the costs allowing Lincoln to sell a proper LS v-8 sedan and Mark 9 coupe/ convertible to compete with the Cadillac sedan. Whatever the sales number, the total would be that much higher than it is now.

    Reply
  5. Richard

    In 1993 Lincoln sold 231,660 vehicles and 83,868 in 2022. The 1993 year was also bolstered by Mercury. That is all we need to know.

    Reply
    1. Tony LSV8

      In 1993, Lincoln gave us vehicles we wanted to buy with style. In 2023, Lincoln gives us vehicles we don’t have any interest in buying and lack distinctive style. So much for progress. Sales tell the story. Wake up Ford or do you want Lincoln to join Mercury?

      Reply
  6. Lurch

    With dealer exclusivity, they are limiting themselves to metropolitan areas of at least middle size. It would be hard to sell Lincolns in small towns and rural areas, where dealers carry multiple brands.

    I also agree that ditching sedans was a major mistake. Maybe electrification will lead to a new Continental and more. When Chrysler outsells Lincoln with only two models. something is wrong.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I would have no issue buying an ICE Lincoln today. My issue is having to drive over an hour for service, wait 2-3 hours at the dealer for said service, and then drive an hour back home. Reducing the number of dealers makes that even worse. You don’t sell more by having fewer dealers.

    I live an a rather rural suburb and there are no shortage of Lincoln owners. However, most are purchasing their late model Lincolns as pre-owned from places such as Carmax (because quite honestly Lincolns are a much better value used.) I have been perusing the local used car superstores for reasonably priced low mileage Lincolns. There are plenty of them out there.

    MKC/Corsair, MKX/Nautilus, Navigators, MKZ sedans are literally everywhere on the roads around here. Perhaps owners are just going to a local Ford dealer for service. Not the best option, simply because Ford techs will be less familiar with Lincoln products, but a solution nonetheless since they share basic engines and transmissions and Ford dealers can perform Lincoln warranty work. However, the local Ford dealers are overwhelmed when it comes to service. We called recently for non-warranty brake service and were told by two separate Ford dealers it would be at least 3-4 weeks before we could get the car in. Ended up going to a local trusted independent who got us in within 3 days and had the car back to us the same day. Shrinking the Lincoln dealer network will just put more strain on the Ford dealer network for service.

    Reply
  8. Edward

    It’s so funny to constantly read the comments from the typical dinosaurs here on every post. “Bring back my buggy whip!”, indeed.

    Reply
    1. George

      Blame the Ford people for not giving Lincoln vehicles we want to buy.

      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I have owned Lincolns for 23 years. My current is a 2019 navigator. I was disappointed that the V8 engine was discontinued but I ordered what’s available. I absolutely refuse to buy an electric vehicle. I hope they don’t go all electric. As much as I love Lincolns, I am beginning to look at other car makers because there is no longer a dealership within 1 hour of home. As someone above mentioned, it is very inconvenient to have service done when you have to drive 2 hours round trip. Forget the Lincoln service where they will pick up your vehicle! I have been going to a local Ford dealership and every time, something is wrong when I get the car back. Like, cosmetically wrong. Each time I bring the car back to fix a problem created by the last service, I worry what will happen next. You would think that since Lincoln is made by Ford it would be fine, but the level of trim on the Lincoln is different. Then, they make me feel badly when I ask them to fix what they’ve damaged. Like I’m asking for a lot. I do love my car, but with even fewer dealerships around, it makes owning it difficult. Lincoln Concierge had been amazing though.

    Reply
  10. Queencaul

    Taking away the classy and beautiful sedans from the Mercury and Lincoln brands was the biggest mistake ever. Logic would dictate the unavailability of these sedans is in direct correlation to the drop in sales. Bring them back!!! EVERYONE DOES NOT WANT SUVs!!!!

    Reply
    1. Mike says...

      I agree. The market is saturated with SUV and CUV’s….. they cannot all survive.
      Lincoln used to lead with innovation and exclusivity… not so much any more unfortunately.
      Pricing has made it a real soup for shoppers…. often gravitating to perceived prestige.
      Lincoln seems to constantly reinvent itself only to fall farther behind.
      I hope their next generation BEV’s are competitive.

      Reply
  11. Jesse

    In 1975 I bought a Lincoln Mark IV Aqua Blue Diamond Blue Interior best car I ever had. Lincoln needs to build a car like that again

    Reply
    1. Cigna

      The only way that will happen is to find an executive with the same mentality as former Lincoln Stylist Don DeLarossa, who is the reason the Lincoln Continental Mark IV and Mark V existed, the executives they have now are the worst of the worst.

      Reply
      1. George

        Also need to get Lee Iaccoca back somehow from the beyond. He knew what a Lincoln should be.

        Reply
  12. Cigna

    So, this Dianne Craig want the number of Lincoln dealers to shrink to 356, after that, it will be 300 dealers, then 250, 200 and then China-only by 2030.

    Reply

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