Ford cut Lincoln dealers to 325 from 500 in U.S. metro areas image

Ford Motor Company has announced it has cut its Lincoln dealers in U.S. metropolitan markets to 325, from more than 500.

According to Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, Ford has reduced its number of dealers in the country’s top 130 markets to avoid dealers competing against each other and to make them compete more with other luxury automakers, such as Toyota’s Lexus brand. He added that Ford completed the dealer consolidation on schedule at the end of last year.

“Over the last 12 months, we’ve been able to consolidate 30 percent of our dealers. It’s been really difficult work, but we’re getting to the right number of dealers,” Fields told Bloomberg at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally wants younger buyers and increased market-share in the premium-car segment for the Lincoln brand. Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, has asked Lincoln dealers to spend up to $2 million each to renovate showrooms and upgrade service as the carmaker wants its customers to enjoy a buying experience similar to what BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have to offer.

Lincoln sold 85,643 cars in the U.S. in 2011, 63 percent less than in 1990, when 231,660 cars were delivered. The best-selling U.S. luxury auto brand in 2011 was BMW, with 247,907 units.