Ford Motor Credit Co. is launching Lincoln Automotive Financial Services as a separate brand, part of an ongoing effort to set Lincoln apart as a luxury brand distinct from mass-market Ford.
All Lincoln customer touch points -- contracts, invoices and customer service support -- are being rebranded as Lincoln Automotive Financial Services, said Bernard Silverstone, Ford Credit marketing and sales president.
Ford Credit started notifying existing Lincoln customers and switching their monthly statements to the new Lincoln Automotive Financial Services brand last month.
Monthly statements now will include promotions for specials and incentives exclusive to Lincoln.
Lincoln customers also get their own customer service phone line.
A new Web site, lincolnafs.com, is up and running. Existing customers keep their account numbers.
Those with online accounts keep the same user names and passwords, the company said.
Since dropping the Mercury brand last year, Ford Motor Co. has been on a campaign to set the Lincoln brand apart. Steps to differentiate Lincoln include more distinctive exterior styling and interior features, such as an exclusive Lincoln version of the MyFordTouch system.
Silverstone said in a phone interview last week that in addition to the rebranding, Ford Credit took a fresh look at some of its policies and procedures, in order to offer Lincoln customers some extra perks.
"There are some differentiations, even though we offer a very high level of service to Ford customers as well," he said.
For instance, he said because Lincoln customers are more apt to lease their vehicles, Lincoln Automotive Financial Services will give dealers "more latitude" on charging for excess wear and tear at the end of a lease.
"Leasing is very important for Lincoln," he said.
According to AutoObserver.com, lease penetration for Lincoln in September was 35 percent, vs. only 14 percent for the Ford brand.