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Lincoln Scaling Back Chinese Dealership Growth in 2017

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Lincoln will continue to expand its foothold in China in 2017, but the brand is expected to decelerate the high rate of growth with which it has expanded its dealership network since launching.

Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra told Automotive News that the brand plans to cut that rate at which it opens dealerships in 2017.

“The growth in the network won’t be as aggressive,” Galhotra said. “We’re being very prudent. We don’t want to end up overdealering certain cities, so we have a very specific plan, city by city, but we won’t be doubling the network this year.”

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After launching in China at the end of 2014, Lincoln grew its dealership network to 33 stores by the end of 2015, exceeding its intended goal of 25 Lincoln Stores.

Plans for 2016 called for 60 dealerships to be opened across 50 cities by the end of the year; at the beginning of this month, Lincoln’s dealership presence was 65 stores.

In its first full year in China, Lincoln’s sales totaled 11,630 units. With roughly double the dealership network, Lincoln ostensibly tripled those numbers in 2016 with 32,558 vehicles sold.

As for 2017 expansion plans, Galhotra did not specify how many dealerships Lincoln plans to operate by year’s end, but did note that most major cities have already been addressed, leaving smaller urban areas as a primary point of focus.

“The combination of a very strong brand and the increasing network coverage of the country I think is going to really help us this year,” he said.

As for whether Lincoln would build vehicles in China, Galhotra said that “it just comes down to scale,” adding that it would likely be considered if the number of vehicles sold in China necessitates local manufacturing.

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News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)