LOS ANGELES -- Lincoln Motor Co. next year will pilot month-to-month vehicle subscriptions as it expands nontraditional vehicle ownership services.
Executives said the pilot likely will start in a few cities in California, and marketing chief Robert Parker promised significantly lower prices than similar subscription services from rival brands that can cost thousands of dollars.
Lincoln is testing the subscription model to help lure more customers and stand out as Ford’s only luxury make after the automaker shed Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo during the recession and sales downturn. The brand has struggled for relevancy in a crowded luxury field but has experienced a mini-renaissance in recent years, and is on pace for a fourth straight year of U.S. sales growth behind redesigned vehicles and the addition of unique customer experiences.
The fee for the Lincoln service will be all-inclusive, covering insurance, maintenance, roadside assistance and vehicle pickup and delivery. Customers can change vehicles every month, and the pricing will depend on the vehicle, although executives declined to discuss specifics.
"Long-term leases will obviously play a role in our overall portfolio, but in the spirit of effortlessness, there is a consumer out there who doesn't really need a three-year lease," Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra told reporters ahead of the auto show here. "We're coming up with a different ownership model for them."
An increasing number of automakers are offering vehicle subscription services. Cadillac this year launched a subscription pilot -- called Book by Cadillac -- and has expanded it to Los Angeles and Dallas. Porsche rolled out its own pilot in Atlanta, called Porsche Passport. A number of startups, auto lenders and dealers also are offering their own subscription models.
Ford Credit launched a Canvas subscription service in May, and Galhotra said Lincoln will use the same technology.
"The inspiration for us was from research about what customers want, and they want options," Parker said. The millennial "demographic is used to a monthly fee for a phone or whatever it is, and they're driving a higher leasing mix. We want to reinvent leasing in the 21st century, and this is a step in that direction."
The pilot will be done in partnership with Lincoln dealers.
The subscription service is the latest example of Lincoln rolling out service-based experiences to lure customers.
Last year, Lincoln said it became the first in the industry to offer pickup and delivery on every model when it's being serviced. Galhotra said there have been more than 60,000 pickups and deliveries so far.
This year, it launched the Lincoln Chauffeur pilot program in Miami and San Diego that lets customers use a smartphone app to call for a personal chauffeur to drive them in their own car. The driver will also run errands, such as getting gasoline or groceries or picking up kids.
It said Tuesday that it's rebranding that pilot as Lincoln Personal Driver and is expanding it to Dallas.
It also continues to pilot at-home test drives in a handful of cities.
The brand said Tuesday that it's launching a partnership with Clear, a membership service that offers expedited security check-in at U.S. airports.
At participating airports, members go to a dedicated Clear lane and, after a tap of a finger or a blink of an eye, are escorted straight to security screening, bypassing the usual long lines.
The Lincoln-Clear partnership will begin in January. New Lincoln owners will receive a free six-month membership for themselves and a partner. Lincoln Black Label clients will receive yearlong memberships, Lincoln said.
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