DETROIT -- Lincoln has signed up 32 dealers in six states for its new Black Label luxury subfranchise. Lincoln announced the Black Label series last year in an effort to set a new standard for luxury vehicles and customer service within the brand.
Lincoln dealers sign up to offer exclusive Black Label series
The 32 dealerships account for about half of Lincoln sales in the six states: New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Texas and Michigan. Black Label will go national next year. There are 200 Lincoln stores in the six states, which represent 65 percent of U.S. luxury vehicle sales, according to Andrew Frick, Lincoln marketing manager.
The first Black Label vehicles are being manufactured now and will appear in dealerships in late December or early January.
Lincoln is manufacturing Black Label editions of two models: the MKZ and MKC. As Lincoln introduces new models, such as the redesigned MKX cross-over arriving next year, each will be offered in Black Label trims.
The Black Label vehicles will be priced at about $5,300 above standard Lincoln models. The vehicles come in four designer themes: Indulgence, Oasis, Modern Heritage and Center Stage.
Each theme will come in special colors with exclusive leather and wood interior treatments. Black Label vehicles come with special upholstery and special seat cushioning not found in other Lincolns. Lincoln is offering six exclusive exterior colors.
For example, the Indulgence version of the MKC gets chocolate-colored Venetian leather and Ziricote wood. The perforated leather seats have an exclusive L-shaped pattern.
Frick expects about 5 percent of Lincoln's vehicle volume will be Black Label versions.
With Black Label, Frick says, Lincoln is offering a vehicle with a designer theme at a more accessible price than the dominant luxury brands offer.
He expects Black Label to attract customers with average household income of about $200,000, compared with about $150,000 for the rest of the brand.
"We're expecting to attract a younger, more female" customer base, Frick added.
To offer Black Label, dealers had to agree to set aside a room as a Black Label studio, where customers can get immersed in Black Label options. Sales consultants take a large metal trunk containing material and color samples to the homes of customers too busy to visit the dealership.
Said Frick: "We did a lot of research and saw major themes come across -- 75 percent of customers said time was of the essence, and they don't necessarily want to come to the dealership."
Black Label customers get what Frick calls "membership privileges," including a four-year, 50,000-mile complimentary maintenance plan that covers things such as brakes, fan belts and wiper blades. Lincoln will collect vehicles from customers' homes for service appointments. There's even a special network of Black Label restaurants.
Black Label dealerships are required to dedicate some sales consultants to Black Label. They receive special training, including a course in hospitality taught by a gourmet chef.
Ryan Kolb, general manager of Hines Park Lincoln in Plymouth, Mich., said his family-owned dealership had no problem making the commitment to Black Label. Hines Park is one of the country's largest Lincoln stores, on track to sell 1,900 new Lincolns this year. Kolb estimates Hines Park spent about $40,000 preparing to sell Black Label vehicles.
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