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Lincoln to build five cars in China by 2022? - image 1

Lincoln to build five cars in China by 2022?

by Ronan Glon

The fifth Chinese-built Lincoln will be "a small coupe-like crossover."

Lincoln is shifting its attention to China as it seeks to boost its annual sales. Insiders suggest the company could build as many as five cars in the world's largest auto market by 2022.

Sources told Reuters the brand will begin Chinese production of the Aviator in late 2019 or early 2020. Based on the next-generation Ford Explorer, the Aviator (pictured) made its debut recently at the New York auto show. It will become the first Chinese-built Lincoln.

The Aviator will be followed by the replacements for the MKC crossover and the MKZ sedan. The fourth model will be the MKX-turned-Nautilus. Finally, and more intriguingly, the fifth Chinese-built Lincoln will be what Reuters refers to as "a small coupe-like crossover." Production will tentatively begin in 2022.

Lincoln sold 54,124 cars in China last year, a record since it ventured across the Pacific in 2014. Building cars in China will, in theory, help the brand grow by circumventing the 25-percent tariff the Chinese government slaps on all imported cars. Rivals Cadillac, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz began manufacturing cars locally years ago for that very reason and are reaping the rewards today. Cadillac sold 175,489 cars in China last year, a figure which makes the country its largest global market.

Chinese regulations force automakers who want to build locally into joint-ventures with local companies. For example, Cadillac builds cars through a 50-50 joint-venture between General Motors and SAIC Motor Corporation. Reuters' report doesn't mention who Lincoln will team up with. Ford operates a government-mandated joint-venture with Changan Automobile.

It sounds like Lincoln's Chinese production will primarily feed the local market. Lincoln models made for the North American market will continue to be built in North America. That said, Ford confirmed it will source the next-generation Focus from China to clear up capacity in its North American factories so anything is possible.

Lincoln hasn't commented on the report.

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