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Auto blogMon, 30 Jun 2014 17:29:00 EST
Lincoln fans might want to give incoming Ford CEO Mark Fields a pat on the back for having a hand in saving the brand from the chopping block last year. He's among the people spearheading the rejuvenation of the division away from its stodgy image to appeal to younger customers.
According to two unnamed sources speaking to Bloomberg, CEO Alan Mulally was ready to kill Lincoln last year. Following the slow production ramp-up of the MKZ combined a with a costly ad campaign, Mulally was frustrated and openly suggested dropping the brand. However, Fields and Jim Farley, Ford's marketing boss, convinced the CEO that the brand was worth saving. They also created a plan to prevent similar problems for new models in the future.
It seems that one part of the strategy may involve waiting until new models are at dealers before starting a big ad campaign for them. Lincoln global director, Matt VanDyke, recently told Autoblog that the division is holding off on a full marketing push behind the new MKC crossover to prevent the supply problems that plagued the MKZ last year. Its big offensive begins in the fall when the CUVs are at all of the dealers and consumers are at home watching more TV. VanDyke also told Bloomberg that Fields, Farley and Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, have more direct oversight over new product launches now.
It's not really a secret that the city of Detroit is in lots and lots of trouble. Even with an emergency manager working to guide it through bankruptcy, a number of the city's institutions remain in very serious danger. One of the most notable is the Detroit Institute of Arts, a 658,000-square-foot behemoth of art that counts works from Van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin and Rembrandt (not to mention a version of Rodin's iconic "The Thinker," shown above) as part of its permanent collection.
Throughout the bankruptcy, the DIA has been under threat, with art enthusiasts, historians and fans of the museum concerned that its expansive collection - valued between $454 and $867 million by Christie's - could be sold by the city to help square its $18.5-billion debt.
Now, though, Detroit's hometown automakers could be set to step up and help save the renowned museum. According to a report from The Detroit News, the charitable arms of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler could be set to donate $25 million as part of a DIA-initiated campaign, called the "grand bargain." As part of the deal, the DIA would seek $100 million in corporate donations as part of a larger attempt at putting together an $816-million package that would be paid to city pension funds over 20 years. Such a move would protect the city's art collection from being sold off.
The signs have come down and retail production ended back in October of 2010. Now, the very last Mercury model has rolled off the assembly line. This last Mercury somewhat fittingly takes the form of a Grand Marquis reporting for fleet duty. It was built at the St. Thomas plant in Ontario, Canada, which is the same facility that continues to produce the Ford Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car for fleet and livery duty.
St. Thomas' days are numbered, however, as the factory is slated to close on August 31. When it goes, the Panther platform is likely to follow. So long, and thanks for all the fish memories.
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