The move is not entirely unexpected, as the 500 dealers were reportedly told back in October that the automaker was looking to cut 175 of them. The closings are ostensibly to make the remaining Lincoln dealers stronger by reducing competition among themselves. Bloomberg reports that more than 100 dealers have already been cut, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Ford's trimming of the dealer network is part of a larger plan to bring the Lincoln brand back to prominence. Of Ford's many brands, Lincoln was the only one to survive the company's restructuring, as Mercury was discontinued and Jaguar and Volvo were sold off. Ford has repeatedly stated that it hopes to revitalize Lincoln with a new lineup of vehicles that will make it more competitive against other luxury automakers.
However, those plans have yet to come to fruition. Sales figures for 2011 so far show Lincoln down by approximately 11 percent, while the rest of the industry is enjoying a 20 percent spike in sales on average.