Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lincoln Shakeups Continue as Ford Lays Down the Law for its Luxury Brand

After rejuvenating Ford and euthanizing Mercury, FoMoCo is finally ready to take its top-tier brand seriously. This means it will set standards for Lincoln by taking cues from true premium marques.

Ford recently spoke with its remaining 1,100 Lincoln dealers and spelled out a plan - or provided them with an ultimatum - that will hopefully please and attract customers while allowing for time to re-characterize and rebuild the ailing luxury brand. If these requests aren't met by October 1st, Ford just won't think dealers are committed enough to continue selling Lincolns.

Some of these "strongly recommended" premium touches include a loaner car should a customer need to leave their car at the shop, as well as a car wash (both free of charge). Dealers will also have to erase all evidence of Mercury and, if they are paired with Ford lots, have their own unique service managers and staff so as not to contaminate the pool.

Ford also wants Lincoln dealers to have 30% or more of their pre-owned inventory be certified vehicles. To make matters worse, Ford announced that over 100 more dealer spots will be gone this year in order to drive sales in the direction of dealers who have earned the right to survive.

Naturally, Lincoln dealers aren't exactly thrilled with the concept of spending extra cash while not having any hot new product. However, if people are patient, things might just end up well; with Cadillac's former exterior design chief Max Wolff at the helm, Lincoln could finally get away from its toothy, Ford-derived designs and give Cadillac a run for its money.

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