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Dealers say Mercury is a goner

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Dealers say Mercury is a goner

Jamie LaReau

Automotive News -- June 2, 2010 - 1:50 pm ET

UPDATED: 6/2/10 2:09 p.m. ET

DETROIT -- Dealer sources say they expect Ford Motor Co. to confirm plans to phase out its 71-year-old Mercury brand at a press conference this afternoon.

Some sources say Ford also may announce that the planned Mercury Tracer small car could be sold as a Lincoln instead. Ford announced in February that Mercury would get the Tracer, which is based on the Ford Focus platform.

One dealer, who asked not to be identified, said Ford flew Bob Tasca Jr., chairman of the Lincoln-Mercury brands for the Ford Lincoln Mercury dealer council, to Detroit yesterday.

Production will cease on the Mercury Milan and Grand Marquis sedans and the Mariner sport-utility vehicle in the fourth quarter, a source who asked not to be identified revealing internal discussions told Bloomberg. Ford hasn't disclosed plans to produce a Mercury Mountaineer version of the redesigned Ford Explorer SUV going into production this year.

Sources previously confirmed that Ford executives planned to propose to the board in July that Mercury be wound down by slowly starving it of product and marketing funds.

Mercury sales fell 74 percent from 2000 through 2009 and dropped 11 percent in May. "Sales had sunk too low to keep Mercury around," said John Wolkonowicz, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. "The volumes are now probably too small for it to be profitable."

Mercury would join the ranks of other departed Detroit brands, such as Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Plymouth. Edsel Ford, son of founder Henry Ford, established Mercury during the Great Depression as a mid-priced alternative to mainstream Ford and upscale Lincoln.

Ford spokesman Mark Truby said the automaker would make an announcement today at 4 p.m. involving an "important product and brand discussion." He declined to comment on Mercury's future.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100602/RETAIL07/100609962/1255#ixzz0pilHHS7N

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Sources: Ford to announce end of Mercury brand



Ford will announce today that it plans to kill its 72-year-old Mercury brand, according to two people briefed on the decision.

The automaker plans to add models to the Lincoln lineup to give dealers more products to sell, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the official announcement has not been made.

Ford has scheduled a conference call with dealers and a news conference for late this afternoon. The company said in a statement that the news conference would be an important product and brand discussion.

Mercury, which sells the Milan midsize car and Mariner midsize sport utility vehicle, has been suffering for years from a lack of new products and advertising support from Ford.

Its sales peaked in 1978 at more than 580,000 vehicles but just over 92,000 Mercurys were sold last year.

So far this year, the Mercury brand has captured less than 1% of the U.S. market, while the Ford brand has 15%.



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Ford to ax Mercury

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. has decided to terminate its mid-market Mercury brand, sources said. The company has ordered all of its Lincoln-Mercury dealers to tune in to a webcast at 3:30 p.m. today to learn about the impact of the decision.

Ford officials are meeting with reporters now at the automaker's Dearborn headquarters.

It has been widely reported for nearly a week that Ford had decided to eliminate the Mercury brand, which was established by Edsel Ford to fill the gap between the mass market Blue Oval brand and the luxury Lincoln marque.

Today, the automaker also is likely to announce that a new compact promised for Mercury will be launched as a Lincoln.

The brand has suffered from lack of new product and advertising, and its sales have dropped precipitously in recent years.

Sales peaked in 1978 at more than 580,000 vehicles, but just over 92,000 Mercurys were sold last year.

This year, the Mercury brand has captured less than 1 percent of the U.S. market, while the Ford brand has 15 percent.

Check back with www.detnews.com after 4 p.m. for a full report on Ford's press conference.



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