Lincoln Mercury dealers got a sneak peek of upcoming products at their make meeting at the NADA convention. High on the list were the new Mercury Mountaineer and the more distant replacement for the Mercury Village minivan.
While dealers left the meeting generally enthusiastic about the franchise, factory representatives inside the meeting fielded dealer questions about recurring quality problems. Ford Motor Co. was snarled with quality glitches and recalls last year, a problem that spilled over into Lincoln Mercury. Ford recalled the Grand Marquis because of a problem with an airbag module.
But factory officials told dealers the automaker is pressing hard on quality improvements.
'They reminded us that the factory executives' bonus pay is tied to their quality performance,' said dealer council chairman Dennis Zawalich, president of Burlington Lincoln-Mercury in Burlington, N.J.
The manufacturer also said it will provide additional financial support for the next several weeks as the market faces a slowdown.
The company revealed an early lease-termination offer from Ford Motor Credit that is intended to stimulate showroom traffic.
Under the plan, Ford Credit will forgive the remaining two payments on leases that are scheduled to end during the first quarter. That means Lincoln Mercury dealers will contact lease customers and inform them they can begin leasing a new vehicle before their lease contract is fulfilled.
Mercury brand sales were down 18 percent last year, while Lincoln sales were up 9.4 percent.