Dealers Ready to Invest in Lincoln Revival

New MKZ winning retailers over.

by on Feb.08, 2012

The new Lincoln MKZ Concept will reappear in production form at the NY Auto Show, in April..

One of the things Ford Motor Co. desperately needs as it rebuilds the Lincoln brand is help from its dealers.  But despite some grumbling over the high up-front costs to convert showrooms to match the new Lincoln theme, the automaker seems to be making some headway on that front.

More than half of all Lincoln dealers in the top 130 U.S. markets have committed to upgrade their facilities, according to Ford.  And the new Lincoln MKZ – first seen in concept form at last month’s Detroit Auto Show – is helping win more over.

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“We have shared our plans about future Lincoln products, the (direction of the) brand going forward and the consumer experience we have envisioned, and already a majority of our dealers have said they are with us,” said Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.

“Ultimately, this is good news for our customers, who will see our new approach to the luxury consumer experience at every touch point,” he said.

Seventy-five dealers in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago already have completed new facilities or major facility renovations, he added.

“We are reinventing every part of the business – from the vehicles to the ownership experience,” said Jim Farley, group vice president for global Marketing, Sales and Service.

Farley said the dealers’ commitment to Lincoln builds on the brand’s product momentum.

Last month, Lincoln introduced the all-new MKZ Concept at the North American International Auto Show. The production version of the sedan is scheduled to debut at April’s New York Auto Show, with sales to begin in autumn.

Ford product czar Derrick Kuzak has confirmed plans to add seven new or significantly upgraded models to the Lincoln line-up by 2014.  But the maker has stressed that is only one of the steps needed to rebuild what has been a long-neglected brand.

Beyond adopting a uniform look at Lincoln showrooms across the U.S., dealers will be asked to make sure every customer – an “up,” in dealer lingo – is greeted by two showroom representatives.  And, borrowing a page from the handbook Hyundai created for its premium-luxury Equus model, buyers won’t even have to visit a Lincoln showroom if they’d prefer not to, according to the brand’s new approach.

“We understand that to win over today’s discerning luxury buyers, we need to create and deliver individualized experiences for them,” explained Farley. “This is driving us to literally rethink everything – from how many professionals you have at your beck and call when you return to us for vehicle service to how we make it easiest for you to choose the starting location of your next new vehicle test drive.”


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