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Mercury announced it has launched its 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid in a limited-release arrangement, through which a number of the SUVs will be available to consumers in a near-exclusive online arrangement. The second of five new FoMoCo hybrids — released ahead of schedule "due to production demand," according to the company — the Mariner will sell for $29,840.

Prospective customers who submit sales inquiries online will be conacted by a sales consultant, who the company says will "guide customers through the buying experience," completing pre-order information and reserving the vehicles on a first-come-first served basis.

Ford's targeted release is also focusing on "progressive, environmentally conscious customers" through promotional partnerships with the Sierra Club and National Geographic. The first Mariner sold drew $47,500 in an auction benefiting a Santa Monica—based marine environmental group.

New Web Campaign for Mercury Mariner