Business news from P.1 and Business Today:
- Booming sales outpace incentives, local car dealers say - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
Area new-car dealers reported strong sales in May, riding the wave of strong gains by Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler. ...
Across the country, both Ford and General Motors saw double-digit sales increases over the same month last year, when GM was headed into bankruptcy protection, and Chrysler Group was already there. If the trend holds for other automakers, May would be the seventh straight month of year-over-year sales increases for the industry.
- Ford will end Mercury, expand Lincoln - Keith Naughton/Bloomberg/Buffalo News
Ford Motor Co. made it official on Wednesday, announcing that it will discontinue its 71-year-old Mercury brand by the end of the year and expand its Lincoln lineup with a new small car. ...
Three Mercury dealers are in the Buffalo Niagara region: West Herr in Amherst, Towne in Orchard Park and Emerling in Springville. Each sells at least one other brand from the Ford family. ...
Mercury would join Pontiac, Saturn, Oldsmobile and Plymouth among the departed Detroit brands this century. Edsel Ford, son of founder Henry Ford, established Mercury during the Great Depression as a midpriced alternative to mainstream Ford and upscale Lincoln.
The Pontiac, Saturn and Oldsmobile websites above are more like fresh gravesites, with links to other brands they hope you will want to buy instead. Plymouth, phased out in 2001, is not mentioned on the Chrysler site.
But it is mourned here, on a cool site that argues that when DaimlerChrysler phased out Plymouth, it actually did a blasphemous thing.
After all, Plymouth was the brand of automobile which God used to drive. It's in the Bible: "... then God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Paradise in a Fury."
- Mercury's end lifts Lincoln - Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press
Let's face it: If Ford hadn't announced it was closing Mercury, nobody might have noticed the brand's departure. It's been decades since Mercury was anything more than a way to spread Lincoln dealers' overhead over more cars.
Lincoln hasn't set the world on fire either, but it lives to fight another day.
- Mercury created memorable rides - Scott Burgess/Detroit News
- With Mercury Departing, Should Lincoln Be Next? - Jonathan Welsh/Wall Street Journal
- Ford to close Mercury division - Jerry Hirsch/Los Angeles Times
Analysts saw Ford's decision as a smart but difficult move that could be for naught if it is unable to pull off a massive renewal of the Lincoln brand, which through the first five months of this year trailed GM's Cadillac and every other major German and Japanese luxury line in sales.
"Lincoln needs to be more youthful, and it needs to be a luxury brand with sex appeal, and it doesn't have those characteristics right now," said Rebecca Lindland, an auto industry analyst at IHS Global Insight.
Some dealers say closing Mercury will help Lincoln.
"Previously, with Mercury paired with Lincoln, it was kind of like selling Cartier watches and Timex watches side by side. It was hard to get the luxury experience," said Brian Allan, general manager of Galpin Premier, a Lincoln Mercury dealer in Van Nuys.
Freed of Mercury, Lincoln can now become a "true competitor to Lexus and other imports," he said.
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News