Despite a lawsuit from a prominent state dealer association, Lincoln Motor Co. officials said they don't intend to discontinue or change a program that gives bonuses to dealers who build standalone showrooms.
The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers sued Ford Motor Co. and Lincoln in January over what it says are illegal payments given to certain retailers that participate in the program.
Lincoln President Joy Falotico said after the brand's NADA Show make meeting that Lincoln would not make more changes to the program.
"We're comfortable where we're at with the program," she said. "It's based off customer feedback that they're looking for brand-exclusive facilities."
Dealers had until the start of February to opt in to the program. Lincoln said it's too early to say how many total dealers have signed up but that to date, 13 of the new "vitrine" showrooms have opened, 14 are under construction and 13 more are covered by memorandums of understanding, according to a Lincoln spokesperson.
Executives at the meeting set a 20 percent target for U.S. retail sales growth in 2020, dealers who were at the meeting told Automotive News. The brand expects continued growth from its crossover and SUV lineup, especially the Aviator and Corsair.
Lincoln's overall U.S. sales, including fleet, rose 8.3 percent in 2019. Executives hope the 2020 retail growth comes from a full year of Aviator sales and the upcoming Corsair plug-in hybrid. The Navigator and Nautilus continue to sell well, too.
Issues raised by dealers included facility requirements and product plans, attendees said. Some have expressed concerns that Lincoln was abandoning a crucial luxury segment by announcing last month the impending death of the MKZ.
Still, many were upbeat about the recent growth. "We're talking about growth," said Tom Lynch, chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council. "This year, we're going to have some great news."