Lincoln dealers say they are reluctant to invest in pricey upgrades to their stores until Ford Motor Co. reveals more details about Lincoln's future lineup.
Ford is asking some dealerships to spend more than $1 million to remodel buildings and make other improvements to meet new standards that have yet to be spelled out, several dealer sources say.
"I say show me the money," said Larry Taylor, owner of Beau Townsend Ford-Lincoln Mercury in Vandalia, Ohio.
"They told us there would be no new products for about 24 months. I don't know how the stand-alone Lincoln dealers are going to make it, especially those dealers who have to spend $2 million on their upgrades."
Taylor is also a member of the Ford Lincoln Mercury National Dealer Council.
Ford plans to cut at least 200 of 1,200 U.S. Lincoln franchises, mostly in the top 130 metro markets. It wants to rehabilitate the sagging luxury brand with fewer, more profitable dealerships.
Ford has begun offering some Lincoln dealers cash -- in one case about $1.5 million and in another just over $300,000 -- to give up the franchise if they're not in a "preferred location" or won't make the recommended improvements.
"My facility is in excellent shape," one dealer said. "I plan on doing nothing here but selling Lincolns -- unless Ford comes up with a lot more money."
Some dealers see tough negotiations ahead with the factory. Some are rejecting buyout offers as too low. And others wonder about the commitment to product. Ford has said it will spend $2 billion to upgrade Lincoln's lineup.