By on January 14, 2022

After years of Ford unsuccessfully trying to court the Chinese market in the same way General Motors did, Blue Oval has finally hit an important milestone. For the first time ever, the Lincoln luxury brand has achieved more sales in China than in the United States.

On Thursday, Lincoln announced that it had delivered more than 91,000 vehicles in China in 2021 – representing an increase of 48 percent increase against 2020. Meanwhile, the brand managed to lose ground in North America with just 86,929 sales for last year. That’s the worst Lincoln has seen in over a decade, though the company has basically witnessed its share of the U.S. market seesawing in the wrong direction since the 1990s.

Prior to 2008, Ford’s luxury arm could reliably count on six-figure volumes in the U.S. each year. But that would be cause for celebration these days, as the company typically falls short of its sales targets.

Automotive News framed Ford’s Chinese connection as a clear victory for the automaker and – from a purely monetary perspective – it absolutely is. While it seems kind of sad that Lincoln cannot reliably depend on its home turf for the maximum amount of sales, Ford has been trying to get the brand into China for nearly a decade. Back in 2014, former CEO Mark Fields estimated Asia would help get Lincoln to a point where it could move 300,000 vehicles globally by 2020. It’s not there yet. But with business from China, there’s a chance it could be within striking distance within a few years, assuming the brand continues growing at its current pace.

From AN:

Lincoln opened its first China dealerships in 2014, well behind much of its luxury competition. But the brand made a point to study Chinese customers and offer them a unique car-buying experience, called the Lincoln Way.

Lincoln hired Eight Inc., the firm that designed the original Apple stores, to craft warm, welcoming dealerships including tea rooms, waterfall displays and a heritage wall that showcased the brand’s history. Designers insisted on a small number of vehicles in the showroom, and placed those models on pedestals with special lighting.

Dealers were told to pamper customers and focus on the experience before they focused on the sale.

While Lincoln is predicting additional growth in Asia, has continued selling the Continental there (despite its elimination in the U.S.), and decided on debuting the upcoming Zephyr sedan in China, the manufacturer has said it will continue selling on the home market. That said, it’s also going to be localizing as much product for Asia as it can to avoid catching the ire of the Chinese government. It’s likewise going to be building more direct-to-consumer stores within the region.

“Ford starts 2022 with strong momentum from the execution of our China 2.0 plans centered on a robust portfolio and electrification,” Anning Chen, president and CEO, Ford China, said on Friday. “The steady rollout of new vehicles – including the locally built Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford EVOS and Lincoln Zephyr – combined with the launch of Ford’s network of direct-to-customer battery electric vehicle stores positions us well for growth ahead.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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36 Comments on “Lincoln Now Sells More Product in China Than U.S....”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It’s the Buick way.

  • avatar

    Mathematically the Chinese market is close to 5 times larger than the USA. If one were to factor that in, that would be roughly 18,000 units in the USA.

  • avatar

    TIL Lincolns are available for sale in the PRC.

  • avatar

    Gee, I’m surprised that marketing a tarted-up Taurus as its flagship Continental didn’t forever seal Lincoln’s popularity in the States.

  • avatar

    I’m starting to think that all automakers have programmed their word processors to randomly insert the word “electrification” somewhere in every press release they generate.

  • avatar

    Interesting. Who would have thought that when you actually invest in a brand, offer unique products, and don’t simply rebadge a Ford, sales would be better.

  • avatar

    Was pitching FoMoCo on a program to boost its stock price. Our proposal included a rough outline of the company’s various manufacturing capabilities, a global market by market report, and a detailed discussion of future plans along with various ways to support their financial performance. Our goal was to demonstrate a number of different competencies to break it out of the usual car company valuations — which were and still are ridiculously low.

    One feature I personally liked was our “World of Ford” section within a special investor micro site — where webcams would be set up in Ford operations around the planet as there was always something going on somewhere in the world. We wanted to set up cameras in a couple of Lincoln stores in China as they were absolutely beautiful.

    We didn’t get the project — but Ford did end up taking some of our ideas but didn’t execute them right because the corporate communications people were a bunch of dopes. They ticked off Wall Street and their stock kept bumping along the basement floor — for which we no doubt got the blame. Oh, well.

    Anyway, here’s what some of those stores looked like:

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Quite a step up from the normal US showroom experience.

      Thanks for the link.

    • 0 avatar

      “where webcams would be set up in Ford operations around the planet as there was always something going on somewhere in the world”

      Will there be webcams at Chicago Assembly? I wonder what is going on there. (Sorry – too soon?)

    • 0 avatar

      @MitchConner, thanks for the link to the beautiful pics. What time frame was your work? I ask because the 5-year increase in Ford stock is 104% and the 1-year increase a whopping 151%. March 20th 2020 saw a low of $4.33 and latest price as I type this $25.19 (the highest since 2001) but F is prolly inflated with stocks and assets in general…

      • 0 avatar

        Had conversations during the summer of 15 for a program that would of dropped with annual earnings end of January 16. Fields was CEO and he was blowing all the goodwill from the Mulally years.

        Fields got run in 17. He was bad. As arrogant as Nasser. Bred a back stabbing culture too. Hackett was just incompetent.

        What was funny is Hackett used a tactic we mentioned in our proposal during an analyst day where he compared Ford’s capabilities and financial performance to companies outside the auto industry. Ones with far higher valuations.I’m sure one of the people we presented to suggested it — although I can’t prove it. One problem. We were going to use it on retail investors — not institutional. And we wouldn’t do that on a call in a million years. So the press and analysts sort of lit him up for it.

        I think the reason our program got shot down is most companies are pretty lazy when selling their stock. They just target analysts and institutions through conferences and calls. Attracting retail investors requires spending a few more bucks while taking the typical corporate communications stooges out of their comfort zone.

        Those direct to consumer ads for gold, funds, and ETFs are proven to generate billions in demand from retail investors. Same can be done with stocks. While you can’t “sell” a stock due to SEC regs — you can set up channels of communication designed to present the value of an entity in the best possible light.

        Several little companies are currently doing it — but this practice will eventually take off with the large and mega caps.

  • avatar

    Ford does not try to sell Lincolns as hard in USA as they do in China. So Chinese get Apple inspired state of the art showrooms and in USA Lincolns are sold in Ford dealerships with no loaners available and danger to be get robbed by smash and grab crowd, forget about art or Apple.

  • avatar

    To be more successful in the U.S. market, Lincoln should offer a pickup truck.

    (not sure why I have to think of everything)

  • avatar

    “Lincoln Now Sells More Product in China Than U.S.”

    Wow, so they actually sold one over there?

  • avatar

    Who knew those dang commies like rolling like an OG?

  • avatar

    I admire Lincoln for dropping the stupid alphabet soup (MK?) of models and the current “design language” is welcomed. I seriously considered a Corsair till I saw the price dealers were demanding (new or used). Maybe that’s what hurting the North American sales numbers.
    By the time car prices get back to normal, Lincoln will go off on a tangent and I’ll end up with a Kia Telluride with a real shift lever between the seats and a plain Jane V6 under the hood.

  • avatar

    Isn’t Lincoln ranked LAST in the CR surveys?

    if so, I’d say Ford is dumping what they can’t sell here in China

    maybe someone should alert the Chinese to the hostile act

  • avatar

    Serious question – how does Ford handle quality control issues in foreign countries? Lincoln failures here in the US I’ve attribute to it’s poor reliability compared to the competition, especially when accounting for price point. How has that poor quality not impacted sales in China? Even when accounting for volume and population – I’d think US resentment would chip into sales.

  • avatar

    Sadly this shows why China will likely triumph over the West eventually. In the end, Capitalists will sell out their mother for the biggest market for their goods.

  • avatar

    Perhaps the “blocky” styling of Lincolns is closer to the domestic products in China but have the cachet of being “imports”

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