- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

Ford Motor Company’s glamour car, the Thunderbird, will go out of production after the 2005 or 2006 model year, but expects to offer 10 new vehicles in the future from Ford, Mercury and Lincoln.
  The decision on the Thunderbird wasn’t related to sales, according to Ford Division President Steve Lyons. He said the Thunderbird might go away for a short period of time, and it may reappear from time to time. “It is meant to be a collectors’ item. And it doesn’t have to have a production run every year,” Mr. Lyons explained.
  Ford had planned to sell 25,000 Thunderbirds annually. In 2002,it sold 19,085 units in the United States and 1,136 in Canada.
  Ford plans to use the platform from the Mazda6 for its new models. The Mazda6 is a midsized sedan introduced last year by Ford affiliate Mazda Motor Corp.
  The first model off the platform will be the Ford Futura in 2005. The new vehicles provide more substance to Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford’s promise of a turnaround led by products.
  Vehicles off the platform range from luxury products for Lincoln to sedans to crossover vehicles.
  Ford is predicting a sales goal for the 10 models of 800,000 units, and are scheduled to be on sale by 2008 or 2009.
  The challenge facing Ford is to make distinctive vehicles for all three brands, particularly Lincoln, from the Mazda hardware. If it can pull it off, Ford will improve its sales and market share and enjoy huge economies of scale.
  The Mazda platform was selected in part because it can be lengthened and widened. As much as 65 percent of Mazda6 parts, as measured by value, can be used in the new vehicles, according to claims by Ford executives.
  “Architecturally, the platform has the capability to handle a wide range of product and functional attributes,” said Phil Martens, Ford vice president of product creation for North America.
  After the arrival of the Futura, Ford Taurus production will end at a yet-to-be determined point. Mr. Lyons said as the Taurus winds down sales will shift from retail to fleets.

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