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Ford to put brakes on Mercury

Published:Sunday | June 6, 2010 | 12:00 AM

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP):

Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will cease production of its 72-year-old Mercury brand by the end of 2010 after years of declining sales.

Ford plans to expand its luxury Lincoln line-up to make up for lost Mercury sales and support Lincoln-Mercury dealers who will suddenly be without a brand.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford's product development chief, said Lincoln will have seven new or revamped vehicles in the next four years, including the brand's first compact car.

Directors approved

Ford's board of directors approved ending the brand on Wednesday morning. Ford Americas President Mark Fields said the decision was made this spring as part of a regular annual business review. He said Mercury's sales make up such a small percentage of North American market share, and that the profile of Ford and Mercury shoppers is so similar that it makes more sense to focus on accelerating the Ford brand and growing Lincoln.

"We don't take this decision lightly," he said.

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