Ford To Resurrect Taurus Name As Five Hundred Replacement
DETROIT -(Dow Jones)- Just months after putting an end to the Taurus sedan,
Ford Motor Co. (F) is getting set to resurrect the name of what was once the
top-selling car in the U.S.
Company executives will announce Wednesday at the Chicago auto show that
Ford's Five Hundred mid-size sedan, which was launched in 2004, will be
renamed Taurus, according to multiple sources briefed on the company's plan.
Ford spokesman Jim Cain would neither confirm nor deny the move. He noted
that Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally has been a vocal advocate of the
Taurus name and that many media outlets have speculated about the moniker's
return to the marketplace.
"Taurus is a wonderful brand that's fondly remembered by a great many people
and it's been fantastic to see so many reminders of that on blogs and other
web sites," Cain said.
Ford, which is scrambling to recover from a $12.7 billion loss in 2006, sold
nearly 7 million Tauruses during the two decades it was in production. The
Taurus, which was the best-selling car in the U.S. for several years
starting in the early 1990s, lost its standing in recent years as Asian
competitors such as Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) and Honda Motor Co. (HMC)
steadily improved their comparable entries. Lately the Taurus was mostly
sold to rental car firms.
Mulally, who took the helm of Ford in October after a long career at Boeing
Co. (BA), has said repeatedly that he does not understand why the company
did not adequately invest in the Taurus. Last month, in an interview with
the Detroit Free Press, Mulally hinted the auto maker may be considering
reviving the Taurus name, but stopped short of giving a clear indication of
confirming the move.
The Five Hundred, a larger car than the defunct Taurus, has met a cool
reception since its launch.
In 2006, sales of the Five Hundred fell 22% to 84,218 vehicles, or about
half as many Tauruses as were sold in the last year of production. Sales of
the Five Hundred were down 51% in January from a year earlier, at 3,526
Ford is doing a modest redesign on the Five Hundred for the 2008 model year,
a move that the company hopes will help it reposition the car in the
The Five Hundred shares many of its parts and a common architecture with the
Ford Freestyle crossover vehicle and the Mercury Montego sedan, all of which
are built in Chicago.
A Ford dealer who asked not to be identified said the company has great "
equity" in the Taurus name, but he is concerned the company has wasted the
cachet by not having updated the Taurus in recent years. He worries that the
Five Hundred may not be an adequate replacement for people who truly
appreciated the Taurus.
"Your best, last and only line of defense-a cohort of Roman Heavy Infantry"