Ford: Last rites for Mercury are all wrong
Rumors of Mercury's death are not only premature, but totally inaccurate, Ford Motor Co. said last week. Going on the offensive against a spate of media reports that Mercury's future was in doubt, the company issued an unusual statement filled with assurances about the brand's health and future product lineup.
'I can tell you that Mercury is planning to bring to market new versions of several products over the next couple of years, hardly a sign of a brand with a limited future,' said Bob Rewey, Ford Motor's sales and marketing boss.
PENSKE ON PROWL? Internet chat rooms last week claimed that recent reports of 'Penske sightings' at United Auto Group dealerships were a sign that Chairman Roger Penske of Penske Corp. in Detroit was sizing up New York-based United Auto for a potential buy-out or investment. United Auto shares soared on the news, before trailing off. Jim Harris, Penske Corp. vice president of finance, would neither confirm nor deny the rumors last week. Penske has a war chest for acquisitions: eight months ago, Penske and a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Corp. formed Penske Capital Partners, with the announced goal of acquiring $1 billion of assets in the next three years.
THROWING ROCKS AT THE CEILING - General Motors Chairman Jack Smith was elected chairman of the board of Catalyst, a national nonprofit organization based in New York that works on behalf of women in the business world. Catalyst, which was formed in 1962, advises the nation's top corporations on ways to eliminate the corporate glass ceiling. Smith joined Catalyst's board of directors in 1997.
PASSED BY PASSAT - The 1999 Volkswagen Passat is Consumer Reports' top family sedan, edging out the perennial winner, the Toyota Camry - which had won the category each year since its 1983 introduction. Testers liked the Passat's acceleration, seat comfort, braking and smooth shifting. The Passat topped the Camry in performance tests last year, said Andy Norton, a magazine spokesman. Because it was a redesign, however, no reliable data were available, so it was denied the top spot. The magazine reported nearly 92 percent of VW customers said they were satisfied with their dealership experience, compared with about 84 percent of Toyota customers.