(Adds Lincoln China head comments)
DETROIT/BEIJING Oct 10 Ford Motor Co's
luxury unit Lincoln is studying whether to produce cars locally
in China, the brand's China chief said on Monday, as its sales
surge in the world's largest auto market.
Lincoln nearly tripled its China sales in the third quarter
to 8,546 vehicles, the company said on Monday.
Despite rapid growth, Lincoln sales distantly trail those of
more established German competitors as well as American rival
GM's Cadillac, all of which produce cars locally to avoid
hefty taxes on imported vehicles.
Lincoln is accelerating its entry into China with plans to
have 65 Lincoln stores by the end of 2016, instead of previous
plans of 60, with 80 planned for year-end 2017, Lincoln China
President Amy Marentic told Reuters.
Marentic said the company will also open five to 10 smaller
sales branches to tap into fast-growing auto sales in lower-tier
The company is additionally studying the possibility of
local production, she said.
"You're always looking for ways to optimise your business,"
Marentic said, declining to elaborate.
In the first three quarters of the year, Lincoln sales in
China leapt 191 percent to about 21,000, Ford said.
Even with the surging sales, Ford's Lincoln lagged Detroit
rival General Motors Co and its luxury Cadillac brand,
which got a much earlier start. In September in China, GM sold
about 12,500 Cadillacs, up 63 percent.
In 2016 through September, GM has sold about 77,000 Cadillac
vehicles in China, up 35 percent, more than three times
Ford said it hopes its China sales will be boosted by a new
version of its flagship sedan, the Lincoln Continental, to go on
sale at Chinese dealerships in the fourth quarter.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in DETROIT and Jake Spring in
BEIJING; Editing by David Gregorio and Stephen Coates)