Does Mercury Have a Future?

By Chris Haak

02.14.2008

At last week’s National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention, Lincoln-Mercury dealers were looking for news about the fate of the Mercury brand. Ford has previously said that Lincoln will become the volume brand of the Lincoln-Mercury franchise, leaving dealers concerned that Lincoln will not be able to make up Mercury’s volume on its own. Ford has also conceded that Mercury, for the foreseeable future, will (in as many words) continue as Fords with waterfall grilles and slightly upgraded interior materials.

While Ford has several new products confirmed to be in the pipeline – a new Taurus, Mustang, Flex crossover, Verve subcompact, and more – there have been no product announcements about future Mercury products. Even some future Lincoln products have been strongly hinted at in recent months – the MKS sedan is coming out later this year, and the MKT concept that debuted last month in Detroit will probably reach production in coming years. So what are Mercury’s new products? A hybrid version of the Milan midsize sedan, and powertrain upgrades to the Mariner crossover.

So, where have we seen a similar lack of new product news, and what was the result? Oh yes, Isuzu. Remember what happened to Isuzu? It’s leaving the US light duty market in January 2009. Another parallel with the Isuzu situation is that Isuzu left Canada before leaving the US market; Mercury also withdrew from Canada a few years ago.

My guess is that Ford will shut down the Mercury brand once Lincoln’s lineup is better filled out (i.e., the arrival of another model or two, such as the MKT crossover). Last year, Ford’s only remaining Mercury only franchise resigned, so all remaining Mercury dealers are paired with one or more other Ford brands, removing an obstacle to the brand’s elimination.

Another possibility, of course, is that Ford could just continue to create Mercury versions of Ford vehicles. There is little investment required, and the additional sales are probably more than Ford would have if, for example, only the Fusion was available and not the Milan.

No word yet on whether popular Mercury spokeswoman Jill Wagner would jump ship to Lincoln if Mercury is eliminated. If she does that, you know it’s the end for Mercury.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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6 Comments

  1. IMHO, Mercury is a dead man walking.

  2. Mercury is a brand that has no identity anymore. These days a Mercury is a Ford with a less-ugly grill and slightly upgraded interior. This means Mercury’s main competitor is Ford.

    I don’t think the traditional mid/high/low brand division works anymore. The low end for all manufacturers is pretty nice these days, and the low and high brands have enough options to cover the middle on their own. A third marque needs to fill some type of “other” category and have a uniqe identity. (like Saturn or Scion)

    IMHO the best thing Ford could do with Mercury would be to try to reposition the brand entirely. Make Mercurys into sportier versions of Fords with stiffer suspensions, tighter steering ect. More like an American Mazda and less like a Jr. Lincoln. I.e. fun instead of dowdy.

    Mercury also needs some sort of flagship viehicle. Possibly a new Cougar built on the replacement RWD platform. Sharing most parts with the Mustang is fine, but a new Cougar would need completely different sheetmetal to set it appart.

    Mark

  3. I agree that Mercury needs a unique identity and my suggestion is that that identity should be the alternative energy brand of Ford. Hybrids, EV’s, hydrogen, diesels, whatever. GM should have done the same with Oldsmobile.

  4. mercury could have had a future if they were selling Euro Fords in the US.
    The new Kuga is a good example of what a cool Mercury could be.
    But it’s now way too late. Ford has given up already.

  5. Dead man rolling is more like it.

  6. It’s pretty damn sad that a proud brand like Mercury has been reduced to an afterthought in Ford’s product planning schedule.

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