Lincoln opened its 100th dealership in China last year and hopes to have that number up to 125 by the end of 2018.

Lincoln’s long and winding road back to prominence appears to be leading in the right direction as the luxury brand reported its global sales increased 13% to 188,383 vehicles in 2017 compared with last year’s results.

The brand has been working diligently to resurrect its product line-up for the last three years, including a focus on sales in China, which is the new haven for luxury brands. Lincoln’s not alone in looking to make hay in China, Cadillac’s been doing it for years as has Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

“We’re encouraged by the momentum we are seeing around the world,” said Kumar Galhotra, president, The Lincoln Motor Company, in a release. “The sales growth demonstrates consumers are recognizing the excellent products and services that Lincoln offers.”

However, a deeper look at the numbers shows that if it weren’t for China, Lincoln’s sales results last year, would be disappointing. The company set new records in the country posting a 66% jump to 54,124 vehicles sold.

(China posts a meager sales gain in 2017. Click Here for the story.)

By contrast, the numbers in the U.S., still its largest market, are starkly different. Like most brands, Lincoln’s sales were led by its portfolio of sport-utility vehicles, which enjoyed their best sales year since 2003, with 71,607 vehicles sold in 2017, but that was just a 0.9% increase year-over-year.

The brand’s best seller is the MKX, but it was up just 0.2% in the U.S. for all of 2017. Lincoln’s cars struggled last year seeing a 2.9% drop as the MKS sedan was phased out and the Continental came online. Overall, Lincoln’s U.S. sales were basically flat, down 0.5% for the year, with 111,159 units sold.

However, China – and hopefully updated and new products like the Navigator and Nautilus – will likely bring Lincoln sustainable results for some time, much like Cadillac has done for General Motors.

(Click Here to see more about GM exceeding 4 million in sales in China for the first time.)

Cadillac, which has had 22 months in a row of double-digit sales growth, posted a sales increase of 50.8% to 175,489 units in 2017. Leading the way were the XT5 luxury SUV, ATS-L sport sedan and new XTS luxury sedan.

Last year, China surpassed the United States as the brand’s largest retail market for the first time. The brand sold 156,440 units in the U.S. in 2017. In time, the same will likely happen with Lincoln.

The outlook for growth in China is good as Lincoln China continues to expand its dealer network, opening its 100th store in December. The brand plans to have 125 stores open by the end of 2018.

(China seeks to add AI to 50% of vehicles by 2020. Click Here for the story.)

Lincoln’s record performance is due to stronger differentiation and the exceptional appeal of its luxury line-up. Lincoln MKC is the top seller in China, while a total of 10,501 Lincoln Continentals were sold there last year.

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