Lincoln opened the doors to its first three stores in China today, launching what it is billing as a new customer service initiative -- “The Lincoln Way.”
The new stores are in Beijing, Shanghai and Hagzhou. Lincoln, a latecomer among luxury automotive brands in China, plans to open five more dealerships in the world’s largest new-vehicle market by the end of the year and 60 stores in 50 cities by 2016, the company said.
The Lincoln Way, which will be implemented in all Lincoln stores in China, is aimed at “younger and more discerning luxury customers who value individuality.”
“The launch of The Lincoln Way and our first Lincoln stores in China marks an important milestone for Lincoln’s reinvention as a global luxury automotive brand,” Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln, said in a statement. “The Lincoln Way demonstrates how a storied brand with a nearly 100-year history is innovating for our Chinese customers while staying true to our roots of personal service. ”
Lincoln’s first China stores will offer the MKC crossover and MKZ midsize premium sedan. The Lincoln MKX, Navigator and a new full-size luxury sedan will be available by 2016.
Ford Motor Co. aims to triple the brand’s global sales to 300,000 vehicles by 2020.
The brand faces an uphill battle in China, where Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz dominate the luxury market. Cadillac, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo are also making inroads, but trail the market leaders.
The Lincoln Way was established after three years of studying the behavior of China’s consumers and luxury buyers. The program provides customers with personalized technology, sales and service -- even an on-site tea room.
“China’s market is evolving quite quickly,” said Stéphane Cesareo, Lincoln communication manager. "We designed our dealership to achieve The Lincoln Way."
The brand is aiming to bring China a customer experience that is “unique and distinctive,” Cesareo said.
Personalized studios at the stores include a 46-inch interactive LCD touch screen that shows a near life-size image of the vehicle. Customers are able to experiment with the selection of models, colors and features before choosing a specific car.
Customers will also be able to schedule personal test drives and watch service personnel work on their vehicles in real time.
Ford CEO Mark Fields said last month the Lincoln rebuilding effort will “stretch well into the next decade.” Galhotra said the price of the overhaul, including two new models, would be $2.5 billion, though recent media reports say the automaker is prepared to spend as much as $5 billion.
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