The year 2000 has been an up-and-down period for Ford Motor Co.'s Irvine, CA-based LincolnMercury Division. But, the unit's general marketing manager, Jim Rogers, says 2001 should be more up than down with the addition of a new Mercury Mountaineer SUV.

LincolnMercury's total 2000 sales are expected to be down 7% overall from 1999's 614,493 tally. Lincoln sales will be up about 14% while Mercury sales will dip around 16%.

Mr. Rogers credits the LS for Lincoln's success and points to the cancellation of Mystique and Tracer for Mercury's decreases.

Elsewhere within Mercury, sales of Grand Marquis will show an increase in 2000 and Cougar sales will lag.

"As a division we'll likely see an increase in sales in 2001, if the market continues to be strong," says Mr. Rogers.

One reason for his optimism is the introduction of a new-and-improved Mercury Mountaineer late in the first quarter of next year.

"That'll give Mercury a big boost," says Mr. Rogers of the V-8, all-wheel-drive SUV.

Unlike the previous Mountaineer, this one will get quite a bit of advertising support. "We intend to support it significantly with advertising," says Mr. Rogers.

New for Lincoln in 2001 is the low-volume, high-content Blackwood. Built on a modified Navigator platform, Blackwood is a 300-horsepower SUV/pickup hybrid with a 50-50 weight balance that gives the vehicle unusually good handling for such a large vehicle.

Lincoln will build only 10,000 of the $52,500 vehicle per year. Everything on the vehicle will be standard with the exception of an optional navigation system.