The Chinese auto market is similar to an attractive girl at a male-dominated club scene. And the fact that rich Chinese inhabitants — of which there are many — need luxury cars to stand out from today’s commonplace motorist lends itself to the success of luxury car segment in the middle Kingdom. Unfortunately, Lincoln is not even a competitor in the China — a market that, according to estimates, will be responsible for the consumption of more than a million luxury cars by 2015.
Even though Lincoln is missing out on the Chinese auto boom, partly due to Ford’s late arrival to China in late 2003, The Blue Oval may not even be planning to enter the market in the near future. “It’s clear from speaking with market insiders that China is not exactly eagerly awaiting Lincoln, and Ford executives privately admit that they are happy to be relieved of Volvo,” states a recent Car and Driver article.
But according to China Car TImes’ Ash Sutcliffe, who found “a source close to Ford” at the Global Automotive Forum in Chengdu, China may see Lincolns after all. According to Sutcliffe’s source, “Lincoln will be going after BMW and Mercedes in the Chinese market, and doesn’t consider Cadillac, Acura or Infiniti as being true competition to their vehicles.” What about Lexus?
The Motrolix Take
Before we go any further, let’s take a brief look at a few eye-opening statistics: Mercedes Benz sells the most S-Class sedans in the Chinese market. In the first eight months of 2010, BMW sold more units in China than it did in all of 2009. And Audi is the volume leader in China’s luxury segment.
So why is Lincoln not even a player in this lucrative and luxury-hungry market? It could be that Ford believes consumers will be able to tell the difference between Ford vehicles and their respective Lincoln counterparts and — subsequently — not buy the Lincolns. But that can’t possibly be the case — since the Chinese luxury market is currently undersupplied; that’s right — there is more demand for luxury vehicles than what automakers are able to supply to China — leading many to seek alternative purchase routes (such as importing).
Perhaps the more pertinent question would be why Lincoln doesn’t set its sights on the soft luxury segment and beat Lexus at its own game. That’s the strategy in motion in North America that’s proving to be somewhat successful — and Lincoln certainly has the comfortable, feature-rich, well-appointed, and luxurious line-up to do just that. So what gives, Linc? What gives?