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It's a question few are asking the day after Ford announced that Mercury – named after the "messenger of the gods" in Roman mythology – would wind down production after 70 years of business. Why? Mercury lost its way so long ago that being shuttered at some point was a foregone conclusion. The only question was when. And now we have the answer.


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In 2006, Ford began to shrink its dealership network in order to more efficiently align its distribution network. Three years later, it appears that the hardest hit are the company's stand-alone Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. While there were 619 Lincoln-Mercury dealerships nationwide just a few years ago, the number had dwindled down to just 357 at the beginning of 2009.


Ford's mouthpiece continues to deny there's any plan to smother Mercury with its own pillow, but a Ford supplier has whispered something different in the ear of Inside Line. According to IL and its source, the last Mercury to die will likely be the handsome and likable Milan sedan, which will receive a mid-cycle refresh that shall carry the model through to 2012. The Sable will likely expire in 2010 when the new Taurus rolls out without a Mercury counterpart. Ford rhetoric, however, still holds

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