Ford to Eliminate Mercury Brand

Ford Motor Co (F.N) will eliminate its Mercury brand which has seen sales and investment plunge in recent years, closing out a vehicle lineup created in the 1930s by Edsel Ford, the automaker said on Wednesday.

Ford declined to disclose the cost of eliminating the Mercury brand, but said it expected to shift those resources to expanding its Lincoln luxury brand and did not plan job cuts. Ford plans to cease Mercury production in the fourth quarter.

Mercury, established to serve as a bridge between the mass market Ford brand and Lincoln, has seen sales dwindle from a peak in the late 1970s. Its U.S. market share has been ebbing for several years and is now less than 1 percent.

The wind-down of Mercury, coupled with Ford's planned sale of its Volvo car unit to China's Geely (0175.HK), reduces Ford to just two brands like Toyota Motor Corp and further distances the automaker from its past multibrand strategy.

Ford said the Mercury decision would not change its forecast to be solidly profitable in 2010. The Ford board of directors approved the Mercury decision on Wednesday.

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