The distance between Michigan and China is over 6,800 miles. This fact is significant because starting this summer Lincoln will begin exporting 2017 Lincoln Continental units from its Flat Rock, MI assembly plant to various markets across the globe.
Arguably the most prominent of these markets is China, which, as a recent Automotive News report illustrates, has grown into the largest auto market in the world. In 2015 alone, vehicle sales in China eclipsed sales in the U.S.: Chinese consumers purchased 24.6 million vehicles versus the 17.2 million vehicles bought by U.S. car buyers. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that automakers like Lincoln offer versions of their vehicles that are modified with the specific needs of Chinese consumers in mind.
For instance, China will be the only country to receive a 2017 Lincoln Continental with a 2.0-liter engine. The Chinese-market Continental will be further equipped with exclusive interior features like a longer wheelbase, more spacious rear seats with taut leather, and even the removal of the “new car scent” that apparently turns off Chinese car buyers.
While these details may seem inconsequential to us, such minor alterations can pay major dividends, according to Pei-Wen Hsu, Deputy GM of Marketing for Lincoln China.
“They have high demands in terms of craftsmanship and fit and finish,” said Hsu. “By learning from the Chinese consumers, we’ve been able to refine our offering.”
According to Automotive News, previous automakers failed to make inroads in the Chinese car market because they weren’t attuned to the cultural nuances that influence consumer behavior. In addition to satisfying the specific tastes of the Chinese auto consumer, Lincoln also addressed regulatory issues specific to the Chinese market. For this reason, Lincoln wouldn’t attempt to sell a vehicle with roof rails or trailer hitches, since both features are illegal in China.
Chinese consumers tend to appraise vehicle quality in microscopic detail, which is why it’s important that automakers are also attentive to the finer points. It’s especially important to an automaker like Lincoln, which is still making inroads in China after entering it a few years ago. Lincoln’s goals in the short term are to add more dealerships and increase its overall vehicle sales. In time, we suspect that Chinese consumers will be attracted to the quiet luxury of the Continental, along with the other luxury vehicles in the Lincoln lineup.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental is scheduled to begin production later this summer. In the meantime, visit West Point Lincoln for best new and pre-owned Lincoln vehicles in the greater Houston area!