It’s a reality that all automakers are fully cognizant of: China represents a rapidly expanding market that offers outstanding opportunities for sales growth. Some are already present and active and have been for a few years, notably Buick, while others are preparing the terrain to do the same. One of those is Lincoln.
Ford’s luxury brand has turned its focus increasingly to Far-East Asia, a region that could finally give it the opportunity to grow its sales substantially. Internal sources revealed to Reuters news agency that the division could begin assembling up to five models in China by 2022.
The first to get the go-ahead will be the Aviator at the end of 2019 or early in 2020. Based on the next-generation Ford Explorer, the SUV made its public debut at last month’s New York International Auto Show. It will be followed by the as-yet-unnamed models that will replace the MKC and MKZ. The fourth Lincoln to be built in China is expected to be the Nautilus SUV, first revealed in Los Angeles last fall.
And then comes the fifth: Reuters has reported that a future Lincoln coupe-style compact SUV will also be Chinese-made, though only in 2022.
Lincoln first started to look seriously at the Chinese market in 2014. By 2017, the company sold 54,124 units in China. But the 25% import tariff it is obliged to pay is hurting it vis-à-vis its principal rivals. Cadillac, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz already assemble vehicles there and get the substantial financial benefits that come with that. The first of those companies, Lincoln’s eternal rival Cadillac, sold 175,489 units in China last year, making that country the biggest-selling market for General Motors’ luxury banner.
China’s business regulations oblige automakers to work in partnership with Chinese companies; Ford currently partners with Changan Automobile.