Ford Motor Company has confirmed plans to produce a new Lincoln product in China. The new SUV is slated to begin production in late 2019 and will aid in the brand in competing with U.S. and German rivals as Lincoln accelerates its growth in China.
Lincoln will leverage an existing assembly plant it jointly operates with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. to build the new SUV. As of today all Lincoln products are imported to China from North America. Local production is seen as an imperative if Ford wishes to grow the brand further in China. All imported vehicles from North America to China have a 25 percent tax imposed on them.
“The move to local production is a key next step in Lincoln’s evolution in China and will complement continued imports from North America,” Ford said in a statement reported by Automotive News.
Details regarding the SUV are not yet known. From a timing perspective, it is possible it will be the next-generation MKC or MKX. However, many automakers are producing unique-to-China vehicles locally, such as longer wheelbase variants of their global crossovers.
News of a Chinese-produced Lincoln comes as little surprise. Reports surfaced last June confirming the company was in talks with its joint-venture partners to plan for Lincoln production in China.
Plans for local production are spawning from recent success Lincoln has seen in the Chinese market. In 2016 the brand’s sales were up 180 percent over 2015, largely credited to Lincoln doubling its dealership base during the year. Lincoln currently has 65 dealerships in China, with plans to continue adding more in 2017, though they are slowing dealership growth this year.