Ford Motor Co.'s slow-selling Five Hundred sedan will be renamed the Taurus for the '08 model year, and the Mercury Montego sedan and Ford Freestyle cross/utility vehicle are to be rebadged the Sable and Taurus X, respectively.
The new vehicles now have names that resonate better with consumers, Mark Fields, president-The Americas, says.
Bowing in 1985, the Taurus is credited with helping pull Ford out of one of its darkest periods. The auto maker halted production on the Taurus in September due to flagging sales, but new Ford CEO Alan Mulally is said to have expressed interest in resurrecting the model.
“The Taurus name today is still recognized by 80% of consumers,” Fields says. “As we're introducing the upgraded '08-model Ford Five Hundred, we could have ramped up our advertising and hoped to achieve similar (name recognition) to Taurus. But that would take time and even more money to get the wheel turning.”
He says only four in 10 people are aware of the Five Hundred, and the numbers are even lower for the Freestyle and Montego.