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'94 MERCURY VILLAGER PRODUCTION BEGINS AS FORD'S AVON LAKE PLANT INCREASES CAPACITY

 AVON LAKE, Ohio, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) today increased hourly production of the Mercury Villager minivan at its Ohio Assembly Plant (where the Nissan Quest also is assembled) as production of 1994 models began.
 The plant raised production of the Villager (and Quest) from 29 1/2 to 33 units per hour -- an increase of 20,000 units per year, for a total of 154,000 units for the 1994 calendar year, including overtime work, according to Plant Manager Dave Porter.
 In production startup ceremonies, Bobbie Koehler-Gaunt, general sales manager for Lincoln-Mercury Division in Detroit, UAW Local 2000 Chairman John Hatcher and Porter drove the first 1994 Villager off the line.
 "The increase is a reflection of customer demand for Villager, which is a result of its high quality," said Porter. "Our employees are to be congratulated for their contributions to building a quality product. In fact, Villager ranks first in customer satisfaction of all Ford Motor Company passenger vehicles."
 Ford added more than 1,900 jobs at Ohio Assembly when it completed a 3 1/2-year, $900 million plant expansion in 1992.
 In 1993 -- Villager's first full model year of availability -- the vehicle captured 1.3 percent of the U.S. light truck market, ranking Villager third in retail minivan sales behind only the Chrysler minivans and the Ford Aerostar.
 "That's a fantastic accomplishment for any vehicle and dealer organization to achieve in its first year," said Koehler-Gaunt, "particularly when you consider the intense competition in this segment of the market and the fact that Villager was the first minivan for Lincoln-Mercury dealers."
 She said Lincoln-Mercury expects to sell 86,000 Villagers in 1994 capturing 1.4 percent of the truck market.
 "That's a very ambitious goal when you stop to think that, just 10 years ago, the minivan market as we know it today didn't even exist in the United States," said Koehler-Gaunt. "By the end of the 1994 model year, we are projecting industry sales of approximately 1.2 million minivans, up from just over 900,000 in 1992."
 "The 1994 Villager is equipped with an even higher level of standard equipment than its predecessor, and continues to offer customers great value," said Koehler-Gaunt.
 For 1994, Mercury Villager features a standard driver's-side airbag supplemental restraint system (SRS) and a CFC-free air conditioning system. Villager also has two new two-tone exterior color combinations on the LS model and new trim touches avl?able on all models.
 The Villager minivan is available in three models -- GS, LS and Nautica. The 1994 base price for the GS is $18,375, while the base MSRP for the LS is $23,155. The base MSRP for the Nautica Villager is $24,635. Villager prices are up 2.4 percent compared with comparably equipped 1993 models.
 A special edition Nautica Villager continues in 1994, combining the fashion authority of the leading sportswear company known worldwide with the excellence of Lincoln-Mercury. Nautica Villager has a striking Twilight Blue over White or White over Twilight Blue color theme, aluminum wheels painted white, yellow tape stripes, unique blue leather trim with white perforated leather inserts (on the four captain's chairs) and the features of the top-of-the-line Preferred Equipment Package.
 The front-wheel drive Villager is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 engine with an overhead cam and sequential electronic fuel injection. The 151-horsepower engine is coupled with an electronically controlled four-speed automatic overdrive transaxle. With this powertrain and the optional towing package, the Villager has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
 The Villager, with its standard four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) and other safety features, is designed to meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for cars and trucks.
 -0- 11/30/93
 /CONTACT: Bill Carroll of Ford, 313-322-1300; or Carolyn Brown of Lincoln-Mercury, 313-446-4399/
 (F)


CO: Lincoln-Mercury Division; Ford Motor Company ST: Ohio IN: AUT SU:

ML-RD -- DE003 -- 8676 11/30/93 11:02 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 30, 1993
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