Michigan Lincoln Dealers Shocked to Hear They Could Face Cuts by Ford

Michigan Lincoln Dealers are now aware that Ford plans to cut 35 percent of its Lincoln Dealers in 130 metro areas as Ford makes adjustments to its Lincoln campaign.

Online PR News – 08-October-2010 – – DEARBORN, M.I. – Michigan Lincoln Dealers may have to close their dealerships as Ford shifts its focus to a more luxurious campaign for new and future Lincoln vehicles. Although dealerships were expecting a reduction percentage in dealerships, the amount was difficult to take in as Ford executives shared the news after their meeting on Tuesday.

On October 3, Ford began its new “Smarter Than Luxury” Campaign for its Lincoln line. The focus being on the Lincoln MKX and MKZ Hybrid, the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan on the market.

“This campaign shows that Lincoln offers a heightened sense of style, craftsmanship and technology, and we’re showing that off in a new way for this brand,” said Matt VanDyke, Ford director of U.S. Marketing Communications in a press release. “We’re going to challenge people’s perceptions of luxury and show that we deliver more technology and luxury for an unexpected amount of content for the price.”

During the next four years, Ford plans to release new or overhauled Lincolns into the market to compete with other vehicles such as BMW, Lexus or Mercedes. These new cars will include Lincoln’s first compact car as well. Right now, Lincoln has the oldest customers averaging age 66 for its luxury brand, so a change in target market is warranted if they are to be successful.

With this new shift, it is important for Ford to reduce dealerships, including Michigan Lincoln Dealers, in 130 metro market areas, which translates to 35 percent or 175 of 500 stores nationwide. This will make Ford more competitive in the luxury market.

According to Ford, the cuts are necessary because there are too many dealerships, most of which are not located properly, and a lot of these dealerships do not have the facilities needed to focus on Lincoln as Ford wants. Specifically, Ford told its dealerships it did not want the F-Series pickups to be repaired in the same service bays as Lincolns in order to keep a more luxury feel for Lincoln customers. Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, estimated that less than 25 percent of dealerships can meet this and new standards set by Ford.

Ford does not plan on simply closing dealerships but instead will give them options. Ford will buy out dealerships that choose not to upgrade their facilities and decide to close. Also, Ford Credit, Ford’s own in-house financing department, will offer credit to those dealers that want to upgrade and stay with the Lincoln brand.

Michigan Lincoln Dealers may have cause to be worried if they are unable to finance the changes, but this shift for Ford is a big step in switching gears to a more luxurious market. If dealerships want to be a part of this change, they need to take action as soon as possible.

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[Sources: Detroit Free Press, Reuters, Ford Corporation, and Associated Press.]