Ford to meet with dealers about future products, try to close stores

2008 has been a historically woeful year for the auto market, but Ford dealers have been in the crosshairs of a sales decline for over a decade. That brutal reality, along with financial incentives of up to $700,000 or more from the Blue Oval, has lead to the closure of over 500 dealers since mid-2006, and over 150 so far in 2008. To close still more dealers while giving remaining stores a heads-up of future happenings, Ford is embarking on a series of meetings with Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers. Among the topics of discussion will be future products, product volume and market conditions.

Though Ford isn't stating publicly how many dealerships it wishes to close, the Blue Oval is hoping to have enough departures to make the remaining dealerships healthy. Ford would like to see Ford brand dealers with 1,500 sales per month and Lincoln Mercury dealers with 600 sales per month, which is far higher than what Ford's 3,900 stores are averaging now. To help entice dealers to hang up their plaid sport coats, Ford will be offering cash incentives, but Ford Market Representation Director David Kelleher is hinting that those deals won't last long.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd, Photo by Scott Olson/Getty]

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