Ford ending Mercury automobile line

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

The discontinuation of the Mercury brand of vehicles by FordMotor Co. shouldn’t hurt Brookhaven’s local Ford dealership, andmay actually produce some killer deals on the lot in the comingweeks.

Lavelle Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Ford Lincoln, said hisdealership is projected to make a smooth transition away from theMercury brand, which Ford announced Wednesday it would no longerproduce after 72 years. Money spent on the Mercury brand will bereinvested into the strong Ford and Lincoln models and will pay forthe development of new Lincoln varieties, all of which Sullivanplans to pick up at his lot on Magee Drive.

“It won’t disrupt our business pattern at all,” Sullivan saidThursday morning. “There’s going to be some buyers who havesentimental attachments (to Mercury models), but it’s best for FordMotor Co., and it will strengthen the Ford and Lincoln brands.”

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Sullivan was not surprised when Ford broke the news of Mercury’sdemise to him in a teleconference Wednesday, as low sales andlittle interest has had the brand in a steady decline for decades.He had already begun trimming back the number of Mercury vehicleson his lot.

“The sales have been flat for the last several years,” hesaid.

Mercury sales peaked in 1978 at 580,000 vehicles and neverenjoyed that success again, with less than 100,000 vehicles sold inthe U.S. last year. Sullivan said the brand’s market share standsat around 0.8 percent of the national market, while Ford hascaptured 15 percent of the market after growing two percentagepoints since 2008.

The best-selling Mercury brand is likely the Marquis, a bigfour-door known for its smooth ride and popularity among elderlydrivers, Sullivan said. Other models include the Mariner, amid-sized sport utility vehicle; Milan, a coupe; and Mountaineer, alarge SUV.

Sullivan only has a handful of Mercury models remaining on hislot, with a few more new models still in delivery. They’re allleaving on the cheap, he said.

“Ford is going to incentivize these vehicles heavily to helppush them out of the dealers’ inventory,” he said. “There’s goingto be some steep discounts, starting now. On some models there’s a$5,000 rebate. The discounts vary by model.”

Even though the brand is ending, Sullivan said consumers shouldnot be frightened away from buying a new Mercury. Ford dealershipswill still be able to perform warranty repairs on the brand and canstill get Mercury parts.

“Basically, if a customer is driving a Mercury, there’s no needto panic,” Sullivan said.