PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Lincoln dealers will get to choose whether they want to be part of the brand's exclusive Black Label program, which will be rolled out late next year.
Black Label is Lincoln's name for a series of luxury trim levels it will offer starting with the MKZ sedan in late 2014. The program is aimed to compete with other luxury brands' custom series such as Mercedes-Benz's designo and BMW Individual.
The Black Label name will signify more than just some new luxury leathers, woods and color combinations. It also will signify a special level of customer service, available only at dealerships that sign up for the program. Those dealerships will probably have to create a special Black Label area in their stores.
"It's not just product but also personal experience," said Matt VanDyke, global director of Lincoln marketing, sales and service. VanDyke estimated that Black Label vehicles would account for 6 to 10 percent of Lincoln sales.
"All dealers will have the opportunity to participate, but as we define the experience and the process we expect a choice to be made" by dealers, VanDyke said. He said dealers would likely be asked to make a commitment, though he didn't give specifics.
Lincoln won't give its older vehicles the Black Label treatment until they're redesigned. Lincoln showed three MKZs and a version of the MKC Concept in Black Label livery here during last week's events leading up to Sunday's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Lincoln will offer three custom packages: Indulgence, Modern Century and Center Stage; each has specific colors and materials. They will feature materials such as Alcantara leather and Ziricote, a rainforest wood from Belize. There will be no special performance variants.
Bill Knight, chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council and owner of Bill Knight Lincoln in Tulsa, Okla., said Black Label "is a very logical next step to show the public and the market that Ford is very serious about the Lincoln brand. They have the capability and capacity to build an ultrapremium exterior and interior that we've never had before."