Glass Houses: Lincoln's Standalone Showroom Plan Is Back On

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Following months of negotiations and tweaks, a temporarily shelved plan aimed at boosting the standing of the Lincoln brand is back on.

While Ford hopes to turbocharge Lincoln sales by compelling dealers to build standalone showrooms for the brand, the automaker’s Lincoln Commitment Program went back to the drawing board late last year after backlash from nervous dealers and a California dealers association. Now, Ford’s effort to make Lincoln customers feel special looks a little different.

The sticking points came down to showroom size and margins. According to Automotive News, alterations to the plan saw margin gap between complying and non-complying dealers fall by 20 percent. Via a dealer memo, the plan now allows dealers to earn a 2.75 percent margin on new cars sold, down from the 3.5 percent opposed by the California New Car Dealers Association. Also new is the ability for participating dealers outside 30 targeted markets to earn those bonuses.

Dealers who wish to join the program must pay a $20,000 fee that’s repaid following the construction of the separate showroom. That construction target date is now pushed back a year, to July 2022. Dealers have until January to sign up.

As for the showrooms, Ford has a motif in mind — “Vitrine,” a French word meaning glass display case. The automakers hopes floor-to-ceiling glass and bright illumination draws customers to its growing line of revamped vehicles like moths to a podiatrist’s office. Participating dealers can choose between a two-vehicle boutique or a showroom hosting four to six vehicles, the memo stated, neither of which will be cheap.

Already, 72 standalone Lincoln stores exist in the U.S.; those locales opened before Ford announced the new program. Since then, six Ford stores have carved out separate space for the Lincoln brand, with 10 more coming online in the next year.

Lincoln’s stalled comeback received a shot in the arm from the revamped Navigator, which earned boffo sales compared to its aging predecessor when it came on the scene a couple of years ago. With a brand-wide restyle now complete, boosting the visibility of the brand is top of mind. The reborn Aviator, currently basking in the glow of accolades received during a recent first drive event, should arrive at dealers imminently, with the MKC-replacement Corsair showing up early next year.

Lincoln sales rose 1.3 percent in the U.S. in the first half of 2019.

[Image: Lincoln Motor Company]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Aug 26, 2019

    This will work in large metropolitan centres but in the rest of the country, you will not survive without an inventory of F series on the lot.

  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Aug 26, 2019

    Do any of these urban MBA-driven showroom initiatives ever have a happy ending? Some people will tell you that you need to spend money to make money, but spending money creates no guarantees. The same Ford that doesn't know what luxury brand customers want in cars and trucks thinks they know something about showrooms that they don't know about product. I bet there are people at Ford and GM that wish the other corporation would kill its luxury brand so they'd have an excuse to throw in the towel.

  • FreedMike Well, if you want a Swedish cockroach that's easy to work on, here's your ticket. Tad overpriced but it's an asking price, after all. And those old Volvo seats are divine. It'd be worth a look.
  • SCE to AUX "...has arguably advantaged the Asian nation by subsidizing electric vehicles, it has attempted to prioritize more domestic manufacturing by pouring money atop the relevant industries via the so-called Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act"Seems like you're trying to diss the Biden Administration before crediting its protectionism in the IRA.Chinese-made EV batteries aren't part of the subsidy program, so subsidizing EVs hasn't advantaged China. But the general sourcing of Chinese-made components - whether in a subsidized car or not - does help China.This is a general problem in the US economy. Everybody wants to wave the flag, but nobody wants to be the high-cost supplier, and nobody wants to pay more.The same scenario played out 50 years ago, except the competitor was Japan. At the end of the day, protectionism didn't work, and consumers got what they wanted.
  • Bkojote I'm so glad I bought a Kia Telluride instead of a Toyota Tacoma given all these recalls. I wanted an off roady looking vehicle so I could impress the secretary we hired but instead my wife left me when she saw my phone messages and now I'm stuck making the $1200 monthly payment until I can refinance at a lower rate than 28% even though I lost my job last month. I'm hoping the Kia dealers will let me trade to the new one with the bigger infotainment tooFunny enough the secretary's new boyfriend is driving a Tacoma but with the recall maybe I'll have a shot.
  • Buickman Stop the Invasion. Boycott Envision.I am the top Buick salesman in history, bar none.have never sold this Commie Car and will not until they are built
  • SCE to AUX Nice car for a nice price. I'd replace the headlights.