'All-new' Lincoln SUV to Be Built in China, Ford Claims
Not content with just offering Chinese buyers the Lincoln Continental, Ford Motor Company plans to take a page from General Motors’ playbook and offer the expansive market its own home-built SUV.
The automaker intends to partner with China’s Changan Automobile Group to build Lincolns in the city of Chongqing, starting in late 2019, Ford claims. The two companies reportedly began talks early last year.
The Blue Oval confirmed its plans in an email to Bloomberg. By setting up shop in China, Ford would side-step that country’s steep import tariffs. Unlike in other markets, foreign automakers looking to produce vehicles in the country must first partner with a Chinese company.
State-owned Changan is no stranger to such partnerships, as it already has agreements in place with PSA Group, Suzuki, Mazda, and the notorious Jiangling Motors, maker of blatant ripoff Landwind models.
While Ford has confirmed the new joint venture, it isn’t providing any hints as to the future plant’s offerings. Assuming sufficient demand, it would make sense to eventually produce other tariff-dodging models there, though Ford claims it will continue to import existing models, including the flagship Continental. As for the all-new SUV, its identity also remains a mystery.
The resurgent Lincoln brand landed in China in 2014 in an attempt by Ford to wrestle entry-level luxury sales away from rival GM. Last year saw 32,558 Lincoln sales in that country, a threefold increase from 2015. Apparently, customers were most enamored with the brand’s utility vehicles, which makes this announcement even less of a surprise.
According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, utility vehicles are as much in demand as they are in the U.S., with sales up 45 percent last year.
[Image: Ford Motor Company]
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