Ford CEO Alan Mulally has convinced members of the Ford family to let him kill off one of the company's oldest brands, the 71-year-old Mercury. Mulally will soon seek official approval from Ford's board to pull the plug, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. Mercury was created in 1939 by Edsel Ford, as a step between cheaper Ford models and pricey Lincolns, but it lost its identity over the years: By the '80s, Mercury models were little more than Fords outfitted with different grilles and tail lights.
With sales in a sharp tailspin—only 92,299 were sold last year, down from 359,143 in 2000—Mulally decided to consign the brand, to the scrapheap. Mercury, which currently has only two models, the Milan and the Mariner, "is a brand that has lost its meaning in the American automotive marketplace,” says Edmunds.com's CEO, “and it isn't worth trying to change that.” (Read more Ford Motor Co. stories.)