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Old 10-09-2002, 06:19   #1 (permalink)
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Ford Anounces Two New Minivans

Ford Motor Co. has outlined plans for two new minivans that it hopes will help maintain a grip on a key market segment - the family. On Monday, Ford announced the replacement for the current Windstar minivan and introduced the new Mercury Monterey luxury minivan for the 2004 model year.
Both the newly redesigned Windstar and the Monterey will be available in the fall of the 2003, James Padilla, Ford group vice president for North America, said Monday.

"We think the story on this minivan is on the inside. This is a family product and they live in the interior of their vehicles," added Padilla.

"The minivan market has maintained itself at pretty robust levels," added Padilla, as he outlined Ford's plans for the renovation of Ford's minivan assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario. The Oakville renovation was the key to Ford's settlement with the Canadian Auto Workers last week. CAW members ratified the new contract Sunday.

Ford's share of the minivan market has dropped from 30 percent in 1995 to about 15 percent now as the competition has intensified, Padilla said. The new vans will enable Ford to maintain their market share and even win new customers, he said.

The Windstar, the only minivan with the U.S. government's highest frontal crash test rating for seven straight years, is being redesigned for the 2004 model year - taking safety to an even higher level and creating an all-new interior highlighted by a fold-into-the-floor third-row seat, said Chris Theodore, vice president of North America product development.

Ford will add side curtain air bags for all three full rows, making it the only minivan in the market to offer this level of safety technology, Theodore said.

The 2004 Mercury Monterey minivan will come with an unprecedented level of interior luxury, expressive design and functionality generally reserved for a luxury sedan, Padilla said.

"Mercury has an important role in the revitalization of Ford Motor Company, and the new Monterey is just the beginning of a multiyear strategy to update and expand our product offerings," said Elena Ford, Mercury group marketing manager. "We'll follow the Monterey with at least one new Mercury car or SUV every year for the next several years."

In regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Ford shares fell 16 cents to close Monday at $8.50.
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Old 10-10-2002, 10:09   #2 (permalink)
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Mercury, Ford to intro redesigned minivans in late 2003

(08:30 Oct. 09, 2002)
By JOHN D. STOLL/ AutoWeek
The 2004 Mercury Monterey
Mercury is not dead.

In fact, according to marketing manager Elena Ford, the brand plays a major role in Ford’s heavily-publicized “revitalization,” which commenced with the firing of former Ford Motor head Jac Nasser last year and the company's reorganization soon-thereafter. Mercury will play its role to the tune of one new car or truck per year for the indefinite future, starting with this year’s launch of the Grand Marquis-based Marauder.

Next up is an all-new 2004 Monterey minivan that will go on sale in the fall of 2003, replacing the now-shelved Villager. The Villager was a joint-venture with Nissan, sharing a platform and most parts with the Nissan Quest. Nissan and Mercury have since parted ways with Nissan preparing to build a newly created minivan starting next year. Mercury’s new Monterey is likely based on the Ford Windstar, which is being redesigned for 2004, though Ford is yet to confirm whether or not that is the case.

What we do know is that Mercury will look to remain upscale with its minivan, placing it somewhere in the $30,000-plus-luxury market. The vehicle will be powered by a 4.2-liter V6 as standard mill and will include such features as side curtain airbags for all three seating rows, front and rear object sensers, a tire-pressure monitoring system, heated and cooled front seats and fold-into-the-floor third-row seat. Monterey will share some of the interior appointments seen in Mercury’s Mountaineer sport-ute such as aluminum finish on the instrument panel and gauge cluster.

Ford has shelled out only a few details of its redesigned ’04 Windstar, which shares many of the Mercury’s planned features but is aimed at a lower price segment. The highlight of the new Windstar’s interior, says Ford, is a fold-into-the-floor third-row seat. The vehicle hits showrooms in the fall of 2003.

Like the Monterey, the next-generation Windstar will add side curtain airbags for all three full rows. Other significant details about the 2004 Windstar are yet to be released.
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