In 2006, Ford Americas President Mark Fields said Lincoln eventually will become the volume brand of the Lincoln-Mercury business. With Mercury sales in free-fall, it looks as if 2008 might be that year.
Lincoln is ahead of Mercury in the 2008 retail sales race — just barely.
Through March, Ford Motor Co. sold 24,462 Lincolns to retail customers, compared with 24,450 Mercurys — a difference of just 12 vehicles for the three-month period, Ford sales analyst George Pipas said. Mercury is still in front in total sales, counting fleet, by nearly 6,000 vehicles.
Sales for both brands are down sharply in 2008, by 21.5 percent for Mercury and 18.9 percent for Lincoln. But with the new 2009 MKS sedan going on sale this summer, Lincoln expects a lift in the second half.
Mercury led Lincoln in total sales by almost 37,000 in 2007, down from 60,372 in 2006. Mercury also led in retail sales for 2007, by just 6,477 units, Pipas said.
It's a far cry from Mercury's heyday: In its peak sales year of 1978, Mercury outsold Lincoln by 391,011 vehicles.