Offering substantially different vehicles in China compared with other global markets is contradictory to the auto maker’s Onestrategy, which is centered on offering the same models in all regions to leverage economies of scale.
Production version of Lincoln MKC concept likely headed to China.
DETROIT –’s chief marketer and head of the Lincoln luxury division, Jim Farley, says the auto maker has modified the Lincoln vehicles it will sell in China when it launches the brand there next year.
Most Chinese luxury owners are chauffeured, and auto makers have responded by offering extended wheelbase versions of their vehicles. Farley declines to say whether Lincoln will follow a similar strategy but admits Chinese luxury customers have different wants and needs.
“We’ve made several changes, but we haven’t shown the Chinese variations of our products yet,” he says at the North American International Auto Show here. “We’ve done our homework in China. There are very well-developed luxury customers there, and they know exactly what they want.”
plans to offer its entire Lincoln lineup in China, including the MKZ midsize and MKS fullsize sedans, MKX and MKT cross/utility vehicles and Navigator fullsize SUV. The production version of the MKC small CUV concept being shown at the show also is a likely candidate for China, but Farley declines to say if that’s in the plan.
However, he does reveal that the front fascia of Lincolns to be sold in China, especially the headlights, is an area where there are differences in consumer preferences.
“Generally speaking, Chinese consumers appreciate larger lights that are more vertical, where the West seems to be going to more narrow lights. And that’s something we’ve really had to think through,” he says.
Offering substantially different vehicles in China compared with other global markets is contradictory to the auto maker’s One Ford strategy, which is centered on offering the same vehicles in all regions to leverage economies of scale.
But there also are similarities between Chinese and U.S. luxury customers, and Farley says the auto maker is trying to balance global requirements while designing its vehicles. “There’s quite a bit of alignment with the U.S., and the front face of the vehicle is what we’ve been trying to work out. That’s an area where we’ve had to make some choices.”
Once Lincoln is established in China, Ford likely will launch the luxury brand in other foreign markets. While not revealing specific plans, Farley says Russia could be a potential target, but the auto maker wants to fully establish its core Ford brand there before expanding. The Ford Focus long has been the best-selling foreign brand in the market for its segment.
“The priority is to get Ford right (in Russia),” he says. “Once that’s done, we can dream other things. We’re studying very carefully. There is a lot of alignment between China, the U.S. and Russia.”