DETROIT -- Mercury matched its biggest monthly advance of the year in June -- 26 percent -- and Ford Motor Co. said it is ahead of schedule in selling off the doomed brand's remaining inventory by year end.
Ford also said it is speeding up efforts to consolidate dealerships that would be left with only Lincoln.
Ford sold 9,250 Mercury vehicles in the United States last month, up 26 percent from June 2009, pushing the brand to a 14 percent increase for the first half of the year. The gain matched an increase recorded in March. Overall, Ford Motor advanced 13 percent, its smallest monthly jump since November.
"Mercury sales went real well last month, and the sell-down is slightly ahead of schedule," said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, during a conference call today.
As of June 1, the latest date for which figures are available, Ford had about 16,000 Mercury vehicles left -- a 46-day supply based on sales rates at the time.On June 2, Ford announced it would end Mercury production in the fourth quarter. Czubay has said he expected dealers to sell off all remaining Mercury vehicles by Dec. 31. But it now appears Ford might clear them out sooner.
A total of 1,712 dealerships sell the Mercury brand in the United States, but there are no stand-alone Mercury stores. Among the Mercury stores, 511 also have Ford franchises, 276 are combined with Lincoln franchises, and 925 are dualed with both Ford and Lincoln franchises.
Some of the 276 Lincoln-Mercury dealerships are in markets that cannot support a stand-alone Lincoln store. Ford leaders have said they will work with those dealers to either add another franchise or transfer their Lincoln operation.
Czubay said Ford will begin to be more aggressive on the consolidation effort.
"We have been working with dealerships on consolidation for many years and have picked up the pace a little bit," Czubay said.
Another of Ford's discarded brands, Volvo, reported a 29 percent June decline in U.S. sales. Volvo is scheduled to be sold to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group this quarter.