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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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.]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Whatnext Whatnext on Jan 18, 2022

    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.

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Jan 19, 2022

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

  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.