One of the ways Alan Mulally helped Ford from going under during the 2008 global financial crisis was by offloading the individual brands that made up its Premier Auto Group, such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, which at the time were a huge drain on the company’s finances. Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] maintained its own Lincoln and Mercury brands, but eventually dropped the latter in 2010.
It turns out Lincoln also came close to being dropped, with Bloomberg reporting that Mulally suggested dropping the brand as recently as last year. According to people familiar with the matter, it was Mark Fields, the man that replaces Mulally as Ford CEO from today, who convinced management to keep Lincoln alive.
Under Mulally’s watch, Ford spent approximately $1 billion on revitalizing Lincoln’s lineup, including launching the new MKZ and MKC and revising other models. Billions more will need to be spent on the rest of the lineup, but with Lincoln’s sales still down 65 percent from its 1990 peak it’s easy to understand why Mulally considered dropping Lincoln.
Mark Fields (left) and Alan Mulally
Should Fields achieve what Mulally couldn’t, he’ll be able to leave a positive mark on the company just as his predecessor did. Some advantages he has is a booming luxury market and the start of Lincoln sales in China, currently the world’s biggest market for new autos.
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