Report – Lincoln seeks options for Chinese production image

When it launches sales in China next year the Lincoln brand will rely on imports but is reportedly considering the option of producing vehicles there, according to a senior Ford Motor Co. executive.

Relying on American-made products has a number of advantages, at least initially, according to Ford Executive Vice President Joe Hinrichs, as it would allow them to “establish the brand at an appropriate pace without the pressure of manufacturing which would force us to (try to) sell a lot.”

The real problems are that initially Lincoln will face “pretty substantial duties,” which can run as high as 140% on some models and that it needs to alter its production facilities to offer products tailored specifically to China – which means at least some models will get larger back seats than are currently offered on U.S. Lincoln products. There is a “strong desire” to purchase international brands even if they cost more, asserted Hinrichs, who until recently served as Ford’s top executive for the Asia/Pacific region.

Ford was a latecomer to the Chinese market, hesitating until well after rivals like General Motors and Volkswagen made initial forays and established themselves as leaders in what is now the world’s largest automotive market. Industry analysts have projected that China will also become the largest luxury car market before decade’s end.