Lincoln hopes month-by-month leasing will woo luxury clients

“We want to reinvent leasing in the 21st century, and this is a step in that direction.”

  • Image Credit: James Lipman

Lincoln is launching a new subscription-based service that will allow customers to lease any of its vehicles on a month-by-month basis as part of a new suite of services aimed at offering flexibility and converting buyers.

The luxury brand has also been operating a pilot program in which dealers bring Lincoln vehicles to consumers' homes for them to test drive on their own time — and sometimes even complete the entire sales process at their homes. Lincoln also announced on the heels of the L.A. Auto Show a new collaboration with Clear, a company that provides expedited screening at security gates at airports and sports arenas, plus an expansion of its Lincoln Personal Driver service, formerly known as Lincoln Chauffeur, to Dallas.

Kumar Galhotra, Lincoln's president, said the company is trying to create a brand experience for consumers that is warm, human and effortless, and that the new services are based on consumer research that equates time with luxury. "We take this philosophy of warm, human and effortless, and we really embed it" in the vehicles and ownership experience, he said.

Lincoln plans to launch its vehicle subscription service early next year, likely in "a couple California cities," Galhotra said, that allows consumers to lease any Lincoln vehicle on a monthly basis. While Lincoln did not announce pricing, the program is based on Ford Credit's Canvas program, which offers monthly subscriptions to pre-owned Ford vehicles and come with insurance, maintenance and warranty coverage. The service is so far offered only in the Bay Area and parts of Los Angeles. The service appears to be similar to the $1,500-a-month Book by Cadillac service and Care by Volvo.

Robert Parker, Lincoln's global director of marketing, sales and service, said the service will allow consumers the option of upgrading to larger-size vehicles without being locked into a traditional two-year lease.

"We acknowledge the fact that we are a challenger brand. We're not at the scale of the Germans," Parker said. "We certainly aspire to continue to grow, that's not our No. 1 focus. But really for us, the inspiration was more what we're learning from research around what customers want, and they want options."

He added, "We want to reinvent leasing in the 21st century, and this is a step in that direction."

Meanwhile, Lincoln launched its at-home test-drive and sales program with 10 dealers across the country in March and brought in consultants from Trunk Club, an individualized service from retailer Nordstrom, to talk about how to transform the purchase process. Lincoln has already conducted at-home test drives in China, Parker said. It's also learned from its Pickup and Delivery program, which has seen 60,000 rides since the program launched last year, and from data that show consumers more and more are going to dealers only to confirm color options or do a test drive after researching their options on their own.

"People are expecting that," Parker said. "Luxury customers, they don't wanna go spend two, three, four hours, none of us do."

Parker said the company is currently evaluating applications to join the program from 75 additional dealers.

Lincoln plans to launch its collaboration with Clear in January. New Lincoln buyers will get a six-month free membership, while Black Label clients will get one year. The service allows members to proceed to a dedicated line at security checkpoints, where they can pass through by tapping their finger on a screen or scanning their eye. The service is in place at more than 30 airports and sports arenas nationwide.

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