The latest word comes from James Farley, Ford's director of North American sales. He doesn't see the need to cut huge swathes of Ford's dealer population, and criticized GM and Chrysler's actions as 'abrupt and unplanned', reports the Detroit News.
Ford's more luxury oriented brands, Lincoln and Mercury, are often sold alongside each other in the same dealerships. But while Ford was previously encouraging certain Lincoln and Mercury dealers to consider also selling lesser Blue Oval models, company execs now want to keep most of its Lincoln and Mercury dealers exclusively selling the upmarket models – especially in metro areas.
Ford is tipped to be in the process of selecting around 50 markets in which to keep Ford-branded vehicles out of its luxury dealerships. Speaking with Automotive News, Farley explained that the carmaker is working with dealers to see what the best "footprint" is and whether certain markets should be chosen to "have exclusive dealers" as Ford's product plan continues to roll out.
However, Ford's product plan in relation to Mercury remains fairly unstable, with many considering the brand to be almost dead, and with sales levels tanking many Lincoln and Mercury dealers are keen to sell Ford models as well to expand their offerings.
This would see the number of combined Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealers increase. At the moment, the growth rate of the number of triple-brand dealerships is hovering at close to 20%, while exclusive Lincoln and Mercury dealers have fallen in numbers by over 40% in the past 3 years. This trend makes sense for both dealers and Ford as it puts less pressure on the carmaker to support its dealers should the Mercury brand be axed, which means the new policy not to consolidate dealers will likely change.