Special Coverage

Chicago Auto Show logoChicago Auto Show

CHICAGO – Ford Motor Co. will launch a campaign announcing the revival of the Taurus as the new rebadged Ford Five Hundred and its renamed stable-mates, the Taurus X cross/utility vehicle (Freestyle) and Mercury Sable (Montego) sedan, a top executive says.

“We have 3.7 million Taurus owners and 1.9 million Sable owners that we can market to very effectively,” Cisco Codina, group vice president-North America marketing, sales and service, says.

“The whole marketing campaign will be based around the Taurus and the Sable coming back in the marketplace, and we’ll go from there, Codina tells Ward’s at the auto show here.

The campaign is expected to bow in the May/June time period, when all three vehicles are set to debut.

Contrary to media reports, Codina says the idea to resurrect the Taurus and Sable marques was not that of new CEO Alan Mulally, although he supported the notion.

“The idea came up about two months ago,” he says. “It wasn’t really born out of Alan. Although Alan suggested that we don’t throw names like that out, it wasn’t a mandate by him.

“What Alan has done is create an environment all around the company, and people are willing to speak frankly and openly, and that’s wonderful. So out of that, one of our guys from marketing said, ‘What about bringing back Taurus?’”

Codina declines to say how many new Taurus and Sable models the auto maker expects to sell in their first full year on the market.

In 2006, the vehicles’ predecessors, the Ford Five Hundred sold 84,218 units, followed by the Freestyle with 58,602 and Mercury Montego with 22,332, according to Ward’s data.

Codina does say Ford expects to see an uptick in sales. “We have not put out a number yet, but I would expect sales to go up. Otherwise this (rebadging) was for nothing.”

Meanwhile, plans to trim Ford’s dealer network are on track, Codina says.

In the year since the consolidation strategy was launched, the auto maker has cut 126 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers from its 4,300 U.S. stores.

Dealer reaction to the consolidation has been positive, Codina says.

“Their businesses actually benefited by that (consolidation),” Codina says. “I spoke to a dealer last night, after we closed several stores in Chicago, and his sales are flourishing. So he’s beginning to see this can and will work.”

bpope@wardsauto.com