By on August 26, 2019

Image: Ford

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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12 Comments on “Glass Houses: Lincoln’s Standalone Showroom Plan Is Back On...”


  • avatar
    Lokki

    I have to admit that I have actually been noticing Lincolns in traffic for the past few months and I think they look pretty good.

    Still, I also have to admit that I am a lot more interested by the moth joke than the new Lincolns. I just can’t seem to shake my impression that they’re really just Fords in nicer suits. Does FoMoCo really have the dedication to stick with their dreams for enough long and weary years for Lincoln to return to glory? Ford has already quit selling cars in the U.S. The temptation to just say, “Aw, Screw it!” and just sell F150’s must get pretty strong at times.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    So it will be just like a Ford showroom just with nicer chairs and fancy colors.

    “ 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.”

    Yes because 1,800 units a month is sooo much better than 900. Meanwhile Cadillac still is selling over 3k ancient Escalades a month. Oh and MKExpedition sales are down for the year.

  • avatar

    The Lincoln naysayers are discounting how well they new Aviator is going to sell. The ingredients are all there for a smashing success. Metric tonnes of HP and twist. RWD architecture. Classy styling and REALLY nice interiors.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    The Navigator finally gave them a vehicle to brag about. Very well done. The Navi may actually turn a profit! I think Lincoln is headed in the right direction. They don’t need to be Cadillac. They can be build a luxury vehicle for the successful professional with a family. This is how GMC rolls with the Denali and how Buick tries to do it.

    Acura does not need to be Lexus. They have their own niche. I think Lincoln is finding their niche as well. Nice to see them at least survive.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    If you build it they will come.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    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.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    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.

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