Speculation on Fate of Mercury Makes Dealers Nervous

Continued speculation about the future of Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury Div., isn't hurting sales, but it is making some dealers nervous, the brand's marketing chief acknowledges. Mercury's viability was called into question again in recent weeks, as Tracinda Corp. advisor Jerry York was quoted as saying he was convinced Ford Motor Co. eventually would dump the brand, remarks he later apologized for to

Continued speculation about the future of Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury Div., isn't hurting sales, but it is making some dealers nervous, the brand's marketing chief acknowledges.

Mercury's viability was called into question again in recent weeks, as Tracinda Corp. advisor Jerry York was quoted as saying he was convinced Ford Motor Co. eventually would dump the brand, remarks he later apologized for to Ford.

Tracinda is billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's investment arm, which recently signaled plans to acquire at least 5.6% of Ford stock.

“Actually, we had a good April,” says Brett Wheatley, general marketing manager for Lincoln Mercury. “It is a concern among our dealers, but it is fairly clear that we have not made a decision yet on Mercury.”

Combined, Lincoln Mercury sales were down 26.8% in April in a light-vehicle market off 13.7%, Ward's data shows. The Milan was the lone Mercury model posting a gain, up 4.5%.

Wheatley points out the number of new models coming for the brand.

But he admits the rumors have been a distraction.

“There isn't a lot of general public awareness about the speculation over Mercury outside the company and our dealers,” he says. “The speculation has come from the media. But no plans have been decided and no one has cancelled an order and there has been no negative impact on sales.

“At the end of the day, it's speculation from outside that we keep deflecting and keep going.”

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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