For most North Americans, it’s a sensation to our nostrils. That new car smell has been a part of a car buyer’s experience since the beginning, but Chinese buyers are turning their nose up to it. “They don’t like it,” said Kumar Galhotra, Lincoln president. “We’ve gone through a very thorough process of understanding the materials that contribute to that smell.”
That new car smell we all know and love is caused by plastic, glue, and leather, something China has a little too much of. Factory smog fills the air much more so than in the west. A canister of absorbent carbon sheets removes the smell during transport. It’s as easy as tying your shoes. That’s just one challenge Lincoln has successfully overcome selling in mainland China.
Another challenge was the complete and total distrust of dealership repairs amongst Chinese customers. Lincoln took this distrust in stride and installed televisions, tea selections, and a lounge for customers to watch mechanics work. If owners feel like leaving, they can access a livestream on their phone, tablet, or laptop. Customer satisfaction and loyalty comes first abroad, just as it does at home.
It seems to be working too. Lincoln sales were up in the States and were better than expected in China. They must be pretty good. Lincoln is going forward with plans to expand, shooting for 60 dealerships by 2017. Lincoln may have been late to the party, but sometimes being late is better than being first.
Lincoln encountered fewer problems than other automakers upon entrance, having learned from their competitors’ mistakes and adjusting. Transparency, personalization, and, of course, tea are all a part of “The Lincoln Way”.