By on August 28, 2012

There have been many rumors of an impending launch of the Lincoln brand in China, and so far, they had been rumors. Now, the rumor becomes reality. Ford will launch its Lincoln brand in China within two years, says Reuters.  Ford is not banking on big iron alone.  Ford, says Reuters, “is also developing a low-cost car under the mainstream brand to appeal to more price-sensitive consumers in the fast-growing cities in western China. This vehicle will compete with GM’s Sail car.”

The news of Lincoln finally coming to China were released by Ford’s global marketing chief Jim Farley at a Beijing media event today. “The brand in China could be a bright spot for Lincoln globally,” Farley said. “We have a chance to be different here.”

Ford hopes to have just the right product in the new MKZ. It supposedly is targeted at younger, more affluent buyers in America, but it turns out that the actual target is China. “Much of the design, including push-button transmission, was influenced by Chinese consumer tastes,” Reuters says.

Ford “faces considerable challenges in launching its Lincoln brand” in China, says Reuters. China’s luxury market is booming, but it is pretty much cornered by BMW, Mercedes and Audi from Germany. Cadillacs have a hard time in China.

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19 Comments on “Lincoln Finally Coming To China...”


  • avatar
    th009

    Does Lincoln have any brand awareness at all in China? The Germans are dominant in the premium market in China, Lincoln has no distribution set up, and then starting up with essentially an unknown brand — it seems like an uphill battle at best.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      Last time I visited China (about 3 years ago), Ford’s presence was negligable, now the Focus may be the top seller in China. The right car can change things quickly. The MKZ will be a quality luxury car with enough stand-out gadgets (Push button trans. giant sunroof) that many in China will notice.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Focus is #7 YTD in China (Mondeo is #70 and Fiesta is #76).

        While Focus is selling well, I will claim that the premium car market is somewhat different: these are aspirational cars, and both brand cachet and buying experience are important, probably more so than a push-button gearbox. And neither one of these can be created overnight.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      A Mulally quote from Automotive News: “The neat thing is the recognition of Ford and Lincoln is very, very high (in China). People have been following these vehicles for a long time. So now the real thing is to introduce the people to the specific vehicles.”

      Bertel, can you give us your view on this? Is this real or just PR?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Germans are dominant b/c they have Chinese production and thus, aren’t hit with the high Chinese tariff on auto imports except for on a few upper end models like the flagship sedans.

      The 3/5 Series, C/E Class, etc. are all produced in China.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    In one generation the Focus has become a real player in China. And while Cadilac has not done well, Buick has. The MKZ could become very competitive, very quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Cadillac has not done well in China, unlike Buick, since Cadillacs are imported from the US and are hit with the high import tariff.

      Hard to compete with the Germans when they can sell their compact and mid-size sedans for less due to Chinese manufacturing (only the flagships are imported from Germany).

      That will change soon as the XTS and ATS will soon start Chinese production.

      Along the same lines, Lincoln sales in China won’t amount to much until they start production in China which they are planning to do.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    That’s a Lincoln??? No way – that’s a 2012 Malibu hatchback!

  • avatar

    This makes more sense than their last plan for Lincoln:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/02/ford-to-sell-lincolns-to-europe-wither-volvo/

    • 0 avatar
      tonymos

      Actually, I would like to be able to buy the new MKZ in Europe: Considering what is shown in the media, I love the side, I love the rear and I love the front (I suppose I’m in the minority here). And I would love to be able to buy a large sedan (large by our standards) that is not the usual dark-grey/silver/black Audi/BMW/Mercedes-Benz.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Well, good luck with that.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    The push-button transmission idea made sense to me in general. Why bother with a shifter and gate for an automatic? You can just free up much more space by getting rid of it.

    The plan itself could work, but it still seems like a colossal waste of resources. It would be much easier for Ford to go up-market on its own than trying to establish a new, unknown brand. That new MKZ would be better served with a slight stretch in the wheelbase, a reworked front end, and then replacing the Taurus in the Ford line-up (seriously what was Ford thinking trying to make the Taurus a range-topping name?). They could even give it a decent name, like Thunderbird (sold as a 4 door in the ’60s).

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    The Lincoln brand has a chance for success in China, but only if they build in China, and offer extended wheelbase versions of their sedans.
    Cadillac will build the XTS in China to eliminate the import duties, and to provide that market with a LWB version. In China, luxury means a generous amount of rear seat legroom. Lincoln will offer some unique features, but the import duties, and standard-length back seat will keep them a small player in China’s booming luxury market.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Lincoln didn’t even succeed on its own home field. What makes the folks at Ford think that Lincoln will succeed in China?

    Lincoln and Cadillac trying to play in the same league as BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, Acura and Infiniti? That didn’t succeed in America. Why would it succeed in China where no one knows Lincoln?

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Cool.

    Now we can watch Lincoln fail over there and over here.

    I mean, if Lincoln is a joke and the saddest excuse for even a “near-luxury” brand in the only place it was ever sold…how is it going to be received over there?

    It’s obvious by the mediocre 2013 Lincoln Fusion that Ford is not serious about Lincoln. Sure, it doesn’t take much to have the night janitor peel off the Ford stickers and apply some Lincoln stickers, but they are losing money hand over fist.

    And this scam isn’t going to help.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Push- button trans – reminds me of my sister’s 1956 Chrysler New Yorker four door hardtop . Very trendy , maybe tail- fins too would be cool too .

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    And is it just me or does this look slightly reminiscent of the one year only 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan four – door Town Sedan ?

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    This does make some sense, with Volvo and Jaguar gone, Ford does need to at least try to make Lincoln a somewhat global brand – if they still have any interest in remaining in the premium market, that is.

    As weird as it may sound, American brand names generally have pretty good reputations in China, so Lincoln may be able to ride that perception. As mentioned, though, the biggest potential problems are the lack of local assembly and the lack of a LWB option. Importing from the US or Mexico will make the cars all but unaffordable, and the standard wheelbase will chase away the remaining customers.

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