Futura won't be part of Ford Motor Co.'s future.
The auto maker wanted to use the Futura name for a mid-sized sedan scheduled to go on sale in 2005. But it turns out that the Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack retail chain of tire and auto parts stores owns the name, which it uses on one of its private brand tires. Ford doesn't want to pay Pep Boys, so now it's scrambling to rename one of its replacements for the Taurus.
``We just don't have a name as of yet,'' a Ford spokesman said. ``We're getting close.''
The new name must start with the letter ``F,'' according to Ford Division's naming strategy.
It is the second time in two years Ford has muffed plans to recycle a heritage name. In 2002, Ford changed the name of its GT40 sports car to GT after failing to reach an agreement with the owner of the GT40 trademark.
Pep Boys said it began using the name Futura on tires in 1964. Ford first used the name Futura on a 1955 Lincoln concept that later became TV's Batmobile.
When the car maker announced last April that it would use the Futura name, Pep Boys objected. Ford sued for the rights in U.S. District Court in Detroit. A judge ruled in December that a 1995 agreement between the two companies blocked Ford from using the name on a new vehicle.
Pep Boys said it offered to license the name to Ford, but the car company declined.
``We were perfectly willing to reach a business deal with them,'' said Brian Zuckerman, Pep Boys' general counsel. ``But I guess they don't want to be held hostage. But it's our marque, and we need to protect our marque.''