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

glass houses lincolns standalone showroom plan is back on

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]

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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.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.