Hoping to create a distinctive identity for itself, Ford’s Lincoln Motor Co. is launching a series of pilot programs designed to emphasize the brand’s “quiet luxury” motto.
That includes both a new home sales and delivery process, as well as a chauffeur service that lets a Lincoln owner order up a driver via the marque’s smartphone app. Debuting in Miami, the new service provides a driver who can run errands or chauffeur owners who might otherwise have to call up a taxi or Uber ride.
The service “allows people to be picked up in their own Lincoln vehicle, rather than one they’re not familiar with,” said Andrew Frick, the brand’s director of sales and service. Owners also can request a specific driver if that person is available, he noted.
The chauffeur service makes use of the same drivers who already are handling service pickups. Lincoln will now come to an owners home or office, pick up their vehicle for service or repairs, and leave a loaner in the meantime.
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As part of the pilot program, a driver will be dispatched to handle any of a variety of duties. An owner can send the chauffeur out to run errands or they can climb into the back of the vehicle and not worry about having to call for a cab or Uber after a night of drinking.
The service will cost Lincoln owners $30 an hour, and the automaker is giving everyone with a Lincoln vehicle – new or old — eight hours of credits to apply to the service. There are no membership or initiation fees to sign up for the program.
The luxury brand is hoping to expand the service to San Diego next and, if all goes well, Frick said it could eventually be rolled out in other cities across the U.S. He said it wouldn’t be a problem to “scale it up, since we already have drivers we’re using when we pick cars up for service.
Once one of the leading luxury brands in the U.S. market, Lincoln is today an also-ran looking for ways to rebuild its once-lofty standing.
“You have to get to know your consumer very, very well,” said Kumar Galhotra, adding that pilot programs give Lincoln a chance to test out new ideas that can differentiate the brand from key, high-line competitors.
Another pilot now underway all but eliminates the need for a potential buyer to have to go to a Lincoln showroom. Instead, the maker will send a salesperson and vehicle to that consumer’s home or office.
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Another pilot program that now has become a centerpiece of the Lincoln brand is Black Label. Buyers get the option to upgrade to a limited-edition interior package, along with a package of special services, including a Lincoln concierge.
“We are one of the smallest luxury brands. We want to see how we can use that to our advantage,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields during a small media preview of the new Lincoln Navigator.
The new 2018 Navigator underscores the challenges the Lincoln brand faces. Originally introduced 17 years ago, it was the first full-size luxury SUV and developed a strong following. But the maker all about abandoned the Navigator in the following year, competitors like the Cadillac Escalade gaining momentum at Lincoln’s expense.
The 2018 SUV marks the first complete makeover for the Lincoln Navigator in a decade.
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