Joe Chavara, newly elected chairman of the Lincoln Mercury national dealer council, said dealers at the brand's make meeting at the NADA convention expressed their pleasure at being part of Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group.
'The best thing we have going for us is Wolfgang Reitzle,' said Chavara, president of Central Florida Lincoln Mercury in Orlando, Fla. Reitzle, a former top executive at BMW AG, is head of the Premier Group.
'He is a product guy, and with this new organization we have, I think the future for Lincoln Mercury is better than it ever has been.'
Mercury, as part of the Premier group, is under Reitzle's watch. The other Premier brands are Lincoln, Jaguar, Volvo and Aston Martin.
Chavara said rumors of Mercury's demise are unfounded. He said Mercury has several new vehicles in the wings and that the brand will be around for the long haul.
'Coming this fall we're going to have the new Mountaineer, which is a fantastic vehicle. The Ford dealers are going to be a little bit jealous of our new Mountaineer,' he said. 'We're going to have the Lincoln Blackwood (sport-utility) coming (in less than 18 months).'
Jim Rogers, LM general marketing manager, said the division began a new Mercury Sable ad campaign in early January that will run all year. On the Lincoln side, the company will debut new Navigator advertising in the last part of the first quarter or early in the second quarter, he said.
'The campaign for Lincoln LS, which we spent a lot of time developing, has been very successful in bringing the right people into our showroom,' Rogers said.
Mark Hutchins, president of Lincoln Mercury, said many dealers were interested in the Internet, the division's online systems and how dealers can become 'Web enabled.'