No change to anti-dualing policy despite Calif. dealer backlash

Lincoln says that despite backlash from a California dealer group, it plans to move forward with a policy financially penalizing some dealerships for sharing showrooms with the Ford brand.

Lincoln President Joy Falotico told Automotive News last week that the brand would require dealers in the top 30 luxury markets to build standalone stores, citing research that showed 80 percent of luxury shoppers would not go into a dual luxury-mainstream dealership.

Dealers also have been told by Lincoln that if they fail to comply with a requirement that Ford and Lincoln dealerships have separate names, they won’t receive a co-op reimbursement from the factory, which is about $100,000 a year per dealership, the California New Car Dealers Association says. The association also said that the commitment program would withhold 3.5 percent of a dealer’s margin if they operate a dual facility.

“At this time, we don’t plan on making any changes,” Falotico said in an interview, noting that the annual Lincoln commitment program behind the policy is vetted and supported by the brand’s dealer council. “We think it’s really important to have a standalone facility.”

In a Nov. 20 letter to Ford Motor CEO Jim Hackett, the association’s president, Brian Maas, said dealers have serious concerns about the policy’s effect on those who operate dual Ford-Lincoln stores. The association, which claims anti-dualing policies violate aspects of California franchise laws, is seeking a response from Ford by Saturday, Dec. 8.

Mass on Monday said he had not yet heard back.

“We’re awaiting the official response,” Maas told Automotive News. “If that is their point of view, that they’re not going to make any changes to the plan despite what we think is potentially significant violations of California law, then we’re going to have to weigh our options.”



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