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Ford execs are vague on Mercury's future

From Automotive News:

Ford execs are vague on Mercury's future
Amy Wilson
Automotive News
February 11, 2008 - 9:50 pm ET

Ford Motor Co. didn't deliver the rousing defense of the Mercury brand that Lincoln Mercury dealers were looking for on Sunday.

Ford executives touted the coming Mercury Milan hybrid sedan and powertrain upgrades for the Mercury Mariner crossover. But talking with reporters after the Lincoln Mercury make meeting, the executives declined to say whether dealers would get a definitive answer this year on the long-term future of Mercury.

Without much information about next-generation vehicles in the pipeline, dealers are worried that Ford Motor could drop the brand. Getting a better answer on Mercury's future is one of the dealer council's top priorities for 2008.

When asked Sunday whether it's possible that Mercury will be dropped, Ford Americas President Mark Fields said: "It's possible the sun could extinguish in the next five days."

Right now, Mercury has a place among Ford Motor's brands, he said, then added: "Who knows what could happen?"

Michael Adamson, chairman of the Lincoln Mercury National Dealer Council, said Ford executives "addressed the issue that Mercury is in flux right now."
Dealers are concerned because Mercury nameplates have contributed high-volume sales.

Ford executives have said Lincoln will become the high-volume brand, but some dealers worry that Lincoln sales won't be enough to support their operations.

One dealer said he knows firsthand how important Mercury is. Dave Emmerson is a Ford-Lincoln dealer in Canada, where the Mercury brand was discontinued years ago.

He said the move hurt sales and led to fewer dealers in Canada. c
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