Lincoln Motor Company has no plans to offer a formal buyout program like some of its rivals, such as Cadillac and Buick.
Speaking with Automotive News on the sidelines of the Detroit Auto Show, Lincoln president Joy Falotico said the brand expects a continued winnowing of its dealer network in the coming years as it shifts its focus on electric vehicles.
However, Ford's luxury brand says that will happen voluntarily and not through formal buyout programs. Falotico said she expects Lincoln to end 2022 with under 600 US retailers, down from more than 1,000 about five years ago.
"I think there's opportunities for us to continue to consolidate the network, but it will be in a voluntary situation. We don't plan to have any specific buyout program. We continue every year to work on the network and say 'do we have the right dealers in the right markets with the right focus?'"
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Falotico added that as Lincoln pivots to electric vehicles, dealers will have the opportunity to decide if the investment required to sell Lincoln EVs makes sense for them or not. Lincoln president said "it will be completely up to them if they want to proceed with the Lincoln brand."
Lincoln's approach to dealers in the EV era is different not only from Cadillac's, which offered buyouts to about a third of its dealers that refused to invest in electric vehicles, but also Ford's.
On September 15, the Ford brand rolled out new sales requirements for its retail network in order to sell EVs in the future, including choosing one or two investment levels to become EV certified. Lincoln plans a similar meeting with its network in early October, but is not expected to follow Ford's model.
"We're not exactly where Ford is on it. I don't see us needing to have a multiple-tiered approach because we're a smaller brand."
Falotico added that Lincoln's certification program will likely have a different timeline than Ford's, which makes sense given that the luxury brand doesn't have a single electric vehicle on sale at the moment.
"We're still working on the exact timing. We do expect we'll need to be getting on with it as well given the lineup we've said we'll have coming. We're not exactly tied to the same time frame as Ford."
Lincoln plans to offer three battery-electric vehicles by 2025 and a fourth by 2026.