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Ford continues to work its marketing magic, directing focus away from the fact that its shutting-down the Mercury brand and putting the spotlight on a bright future for Lincoln. The Blue Oval has announced that by the end of this year production of Mercury models will cease, helping Ford reduce costs while and put more cash and engineering expertise into the Lincoln brand. For years Mercury has struggled, sitting half-way between the established “common-man” Ford brand and the quasi-luxury Lincoln brand. And with Lincoln still struggling to establish itself as a true luxury automaker, Mercury fell considerably short in this respect.
“Profitably growing Lincoln in North America is an important part of our One Ford plan,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “Our Ford brand is gaining momentum and winning customers around the world. Now, we are going to use the same laser focus to further strengthen Lincoln and deliver even more products luxury customers really want and value.”
As for the future of Lincoln, Ford has given a rather thorough look at just what to expect. First is the introduction of a new compact model, possibly inspired by the C Concept (above), but also likely based on the all-new Focus platform. Lincoln also aims to put the focus on fuel economy by offering EcoBoost engines in every model – including the next-generation Navigator full-size SUV.
In addition, Ford has announced it is developing new “Lincoln-exclusive” powertrains including an all-new V6 engine as well as new fuel-efficient transmissions (dual-clutch? 8-speed?).
Ford will look to build Lincoln into the most fuel efficient luxury brand, competing mostly with Cadillac and Lexus, delivering what it calls “fuel economy leadership” with each new model.
Official release after the jump:
Fleet average set at 35.5 mpg by 2016
Yesterday President Obama announced a new proposal being put forward to increase fuel-economy standards across the board. If enacted, the legislation would see the fleet average for passenger vehicles rise to 35.5 mpg by 2016.
Currently automakers are facing an 8 percent increase in fuel-economy standards that would see fleet averages for light-vehicles (cars and trucks) at 27.3 mpg for 2011. Cars would have to achieve a fleet average of 30.2 mpg by that date.
The new legislation would see increases of 5 percent annually after that, with a fleet average of 35.5 mpg by 2016.
President Obama made the announcement at the White House yesterday and was joined by representatives of 10 supporting automakers and the UAW. In attendance were GM CEO Fritz Henderson, Ford’s Alan Mullaly, Chrysler’s Bob Nardelli, Toyota’s Jim Lentz, Honda’s John Mendel, BMW’s Friedrich Eichiner, Nissan’s Dominique Thormann, Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche, Mazda’s Jim O’Sullivan, Volkswagen’s Stefan Jacoby and the UAW’s Ron Gettelfinger.
If enacted the proposal would reduce America’s fuel-consumption by 1.8 billion barrels of oil.
The agreement was arrived at with the consent of California, which will cease to have its own fuel-economy standards.
The cost of achieving the new fuel-economy standard is expected to be roughly $600 per vehicle, a tab that will no doubt be passed along to the consumer.
[Source: Automotive News]