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Will Mercury soon be joining Plymouth and Oldsmobile?

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,439
    "It has always been the Lincoln-Mercury division."

    Well, mostly. I test drove a 59 Edsel one time (I really should have bought it!)as a lark. There was a plate inside the door noting it was produced by the MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) division of the Ford Motor Company.

    I could see why they are not in a hurry to remember that.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    If they can't remake Lincoln into a player in the top half of luxury car segment, then they will keep Mercury so dealers will still have some volume.

    I still like the idea a few posts back about making Mercury a legitimate entry-lux brand, like Lexus' volume sellers the RX and ES. If FoMoCo is serious about developing Lincoln into where Jag should have been, I would like the brand to be unencumbered by the MKX and MKZ.

    I remember a while back there was speculation about making Mercurys Ford's alternative power division. That seemed good too, because Mercurys could stay trim levels of Fords, while still providing a reason for Mercury's existance.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    I remember a while back there was speculation about making Mercurys Ford's alternative power division. That seemed good too, because Mercurys could stay trim levels of Fords, while still providing a reason for Mercury's existance.

    A reasonable idea in some universe, except today's. If Mercury offered hotter engines across the board in essentially the same Fords as Ford was selling, Ford would soon enough have to offer those engines as options in its own models, to stay competitive (or to get the jump on Chevy or Dodge). Way back when Mercury was the basis of hot rods, Mercury shared more with Lincoln than with Ford. No matter how you cut it, Mercury will need to get more differentiation from Ford, or it will continue to fade away.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    You're right. I just would really hate to see a brand go like that. I think GM was foolish to let Olds go, and I think FoMoCo would be foolish to let Mercury go. They are both great American brands with name recognition and an established dealer network. Give them product!!!

    To be honest I'm more of a GM fan, but at heart I want all the domestics to prosper and all the imports to fail. It's just a matter of patriotism. Now, that doesn't mean buy American for the sake of buying American (my family has two nissans that I picked out). It means I really want GM to offer the class leading model in every market segment, and Ford the second leading model.
  • jae5jae5 Posts: 1,205
    Yes, the Lincoln-Mercury in the past few decades but in the beginning they were separate. Lincolns goes waaaaay back, Mercury cam along later and wasn't tied to each other at the hip like they are now. Believe in the 60s when they were tied together through dealerships, as Mercury was then considered higher-up than Ford, had more differentiation between itself and Ford & Lincoln. But little by little the lines crossed, blurred, shot-gun wedding, separation, back together and now almost a funeral. :P

    Yes, I like the Saturn idea comeback for Mercury, using it as funnel for the European or even the Aussie Fords, like Pontiac is the portal for Holden.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    So, assuming someone eventually picks up Jag/LR, FoMoCo will need a new PAG with all but Volvo (which I really hope they keep) being sold. What I would do first is establish a core of models that presents L/M as the new additions to the prenium lineup.

    Lincoln-
    Town Car(S/7)
    Continental(E/5)
    Zephyr(C/3)
    Navigator(GL/Escalade)
    ...and later Aviator (ML/X5), and coupe versions of the sedans, and Surveyor(?)(GLK/X3)

    Mercury-
    Mountaineer (RX/MDX): luxury edge like the MKX
    Milan (ES/TL): luxury fusion like the MKZ
    ...and later Cougar: Milan coupe
    ...and the Sable: the new MKS so it doesn't go to waste; the current Sable is too similar to the Taurus

    How's that? Too much? Basically I figure in order to keep both Lincoln and Mercury, Lincoln needs to be more expensive to allow Mercury to operate in Lincoln's current pricepoint.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    I like your breakdown. I'd vote for it. But Mulally is not a car guy and unless he develops that sense, Ford may survive but Mercury is dead.
  • "Mercury-
    Mountaineer (RX/MDX): luxury edge like the MKX
    Milan (ES/TL): luxury fusion like the MKZ
    ...and later Cougar: Milan coupe
    ...and the Sable: the new MKS so it doesn't go to waste; the current Sable is too similar to the Taurus

    How's that? Too much? Basically I figure in order to keep both Lincoln and Mercury, Lincoln needs to be more expensive to allow Mercury to operate in Lincoln's current pricepoint. "

    I like this idea. But Mercury still has to be less expensive than current Lincolns. It is shame that Lincoln endures cars like MKZ, MKX and MKS instead of making true bug RWD luxury sedans.

    BTW Olds is not completely dead. It is was replaced by Saturn. Of course GM could just keep Olds and get rid of Saturn but evidently Old became just another GM brand and Saturn was more like independent company. It is ironic Saturn being independent company while Olds percieved as artificially invented brand name for rebadged Chevy/Pontiac.

    But it is interesting how GM is able to create 4 distinct cars from 1 platform (like Aura/Malibu/G6/New Small Buick) while making Caddy truly luxury marque.

    At the same time Ford is not capable to differentiate Mercury and Ford. Since Ford already has Mazda as a sport division, similar to Pontiac, I would strongly suggest to make premium duo opposite to GM. While GM has ftd sporty lux Caddy/plush soft premium Buick, Ford can make the opposite combination – Soft luxury Lincoln/Sporty premium Mercury. Mercury may be more like more elegant (without racer-boy design of) Mazda or Pontiac , more like affordable Audi.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    BTW Olds is not completely dead. It is was replaced by Saturn.
    LOL, I think they could have done both. Saturn really does fit as a VW competitor with the whole German engineering concept. I like that. But, Olds could have done battle with Infiniti and Acura while Buick would've fought soft-sprung Lexus and Pontiac could have been just sports cars (ie-GTO, firebird--instead of camaro...).

    At the same time Ford is not capable to differentiate Mercury and Ford.
    Even worse, though, is how the Mazda6 provides the Fusion/Milan/MKZ platform, yet is TOTALLY different. Ford gave the Fusion substantially different sheet metal than the Mazda, and likewise Lincoln gave the then-Zephyr pretty identifiable metal. Why is that? That's what proves FoMoCo cares nothing about Mercury and I'm convinced it will meet a very long unplesant demise.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    Sure can't. We were just talking about that 'round #146. I had a lot of respect for ARM when he came in and it seemed like he would be good for FoMoCo, but to make such an erroneous statement...I just want the company to admit to its shortcomings, that's the 1st step, and then there are only 11 after that.
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    But the first step to a cure is to admit you have a problem.

    That's why Ford is in more trouble than the revolving door that is Chrysler.

    They've fallen, and they don't even know it yet! :mad:

    DrFill
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    I wholeheartedly agree.
  • I think Chrysler is in more trouble than Ford. Ford makes high quality products with good power trains and chassis.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    One can argue that Ford at least has a strong core of vehicles: Fusion, Edge, F-150, Mustang.

    What does Chrysler have? Avenger? Nitro? Ram? Pretty much they only have the minivan segment locked down which seems bad, but I would love to work for them because they can only go up; any future successes will be attributed to these big names coming in. I think that is part of the allure, maybe even more than the money for these people. How often can a small group of executive be credited with saving a company?
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    My argument would be this:

    1. Chrysler got Toyota's bets man, Jim Press. He knows virtually everything that makes Toyota rock.'

    2. Ram is ready for a share increase, as it will gain power next year, Ford will not. And GM has already dropped the ball.

    3. Chrysler knows they need to cut the fat, so vehicles like Pacifica, Durango, Nitro, Dakota are indeed on the cutting block. The may gain by Attrition.

    4. They will be more aggressive, with Press, on emerging technologies and alternate propulsion systems.

    5. Economies of scale. An agreement with BMW and Mercedes will help in hybrid technology, reducing development costs, increasing engineering resources, and speeding market penetration.

    6. The simply have bottomed out. Ford is still in free-fall, and F-150 will continue to take blows until they can update their powertrians, now woefully outdated.

    7. Mustang will lose significant market share when the '09 Camaro hits. Ford uses Mustang as a volume model.

    We'll stop there. But I could go on. ;)

    DrFill
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    Agreed. At least Chrysler can get out new models quickly (maybe too quickly and too much profusion) which Ford definitely cannot do. And Chrysler can differentiate its divisional sisters. For example, Calibur and Patriot. Same car, really different looks and audiences.

    And Chrysler has some core successes as well. Remember, the Ram came up from nothing...sales so bad it wasn't even a factor in the truck market. Minivans still do very well for them. The Calibur, as flawed as it might be, was a sales success. Ditto Chrysler 300. And they can't build the Wrangler 4 door fast enough.

    Anyway, I wouldn't say Chrysler is any more down for the count than Ford. And Mercury isn't even on life support. It's just playing with corpses.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    ...there's a young girl who just started at my workplace who is always talking about buying a new Dodge Charger. It's something when you see a young twentysomething excited about a Dodge instead of some import. Maybe there is hope for Chrysler after all.
  • Yeah, I noticed that lot of girls and women are drving Chargers, opposed to 300. Actually I see more women are driving Chargers than men. But Chrysler 300 is mostly driven by men.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    Well, my 69-year-old grandma thinks the 300 is the "sharpest thing on the road". I'm not sure if that's good or bad...

    I don't think she could even spot a mercury, though.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    Monday, February 11, 2008

    TOM KRISHER / AP Auto Writer
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Ford Motor Co. executives won't guarantee that the Mercury brand will be around forever, but they told a group of dealers Sunday that new Mercury products are coming.

    Ford's leaders have said they expect the Lincoln luxury brand to command higher sales volume than Mercury in the future. But some dealers are wary about the company's plan for Mercury because it has had few exclusive new products in recent years.

    Mercury also didn't get a version of the popular Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover vehicles, which have been big sellers for the company.

    "Mercury has a place in our brand portfolio," Mark Fields, Ford's president for the Americas, said after a meeting with Lincoln-Mercury dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco.

    But he wouldn't say that Mercury will live on indefinitely.

    "Any good business on a continuous basis looks at their portfolio. Any good business does that, not just automotive, and that's part of our process," Fields said.

    When asked what he would tell dealers who fear the brand could be discontinued, Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president for marketing, said they should look at the new products.

    "I think you're seeing continual investment in Mercury and Lincoln for both to grow, and I think that speaks for itself," Farley said.

    The company, he said, is updating the powertrain on the Mariner small sport utility vehicle, and it's updating and adding a hybrid version of the Milan mid-sized sedan.

    Still, some dealers were left wondering about Mercury's future.

    "They wouldn't give us any definite answers," said Steve Downing, owner of a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Yuba City, Calif. "Obviously the future's with Lincoln."

    U.S. dealers sold 168,422 Mercury vehicles last year, down 6.9 percent from 2006. Lincoln sales of 131,487 were up 9.1 percent.

    This summer, Lincoln dealers will get the new MKS large luxury sedan.

    "I think their strategy is there is a lot more growth in the luxury side of things," said Kip Rowe, president of Colonial Auto Center, a dealership group in Charlottesville, Va., that includes Lincoln and Mercury.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    By Bill Koenig

    Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury, whose sales have dwindled to less than a third of their 1978 peak, has a ``changing'' role as the automaker concentrates more on its Ford and Lincoln brands, the company's marketing chief said.

    ``Its role is changing, but we're not going to compromise Mercury,'' Group Vice President Jim Farley said yesterday in a brief interview at the Chicago Auto Show. ``No doubt Lincoln and polishing up the Blue Oval,'' the symbol of the Ford brand, ``is absolutely our priority.'' He didn't elaborate about Mercury.

    Ford executives have been questioned in the past month by reporters and analysts about the future of Mercury. It is the mid-level brand between the namesake division, which generates the majority of sales, and Lincoln's luxury vehicles. The automaker, seeking to revive U.S. sales to help end losses, plans to expand Lincoln as it sells European-based luxury units.

    Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, in response to questions from reporters, insisted at a Jan. 8 dinner that Ford remains committed to Mercury. At the same time, he said, the company is studying ``what we want to do with all our brands.''

    For Mercury, ``the idea I think is to take what they can get from it without expending a lot of money and management attention,'' said Alan Baum, director of automotive forecasting at consulting firm Planning Edge in Birmingham, Michigan.

    Ford is trying to stabilize its U.S. market share for the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands after a dozen years of decline. They held 14.8 percent last year, a drop of 1.6 percentage points from 2006, as the Dearborn, Michigan-based company's total sales fell 12 percent and it lost the No. 2 rank to Toyota Motor Corp.

    Declining Sales

    Mercury sold 168,422 cars and light trucks in the U.S. last year, a 6.9 percent decline from 2006. The brand peaked at 579,498 in 1978. Mercury still outsells Lincoln, which increased its total 9.1 percent last year to 131,498.

    The company plans for Lincoln to take over the bulk of sales at Lincoln-Mercury dealerships, where Mercury has accounted for the majority.

    ``The Lincoln part of the Lincoln-Mercury franchise will become the buying part of the franchise,'' Mark Fields, Ford's North America chief, told reporters at the Jan. 8 dinner.

    When describing future plans, Ford executives haven't been discussing Mercury as much as the Ford and Lincoln brands.

    On Jan. 16, Ford briefed financial analysts attending the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Derrick Kuzak, the company's product-development chief, said the company would ensure Ford and Lincoln models looked different from each other.

    `Very Loyal'

    When the time came for analyst questions, one of the first was why Mercury wasn't part of the presentation. Farley, the marketing chief, replied, ``We continue to invest in Mercury. If you talk to customers, they're very loyal to the brand.''

    Mercury attracts ``independent-minded'' customers and more women buyers than other Ford brands, he said in the interview.

    Jim Hall, principal of 2953 Analytics, a Birmingham, Michigan, automotive consulting firm, said the Lincoln-Mercury division still depends on Mercury sales, and Lincoln isn't ready yet to take up the slack.

    ``Take Mercury away now and you lose dealers,'' he said. At Lincoln, he said, ``the question is, will it get to Mercury levels?''

    Ford is ``looking to put their resources into Lincoln,'' said Erich Merkle, auto analyst at consulting firm IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ``If you're going to get the most bang for the buck, it's Ford and most certainly Lincoln.''

    Based on Ford Models

    Mercury vehicles typically have been based on Ford-brand cars and trucks. The Mercury Mariner small SUV is a version of the Ford Escape, while the Milan sedan is a version of the Ford Fusion and the Sable is a version of the Ford Taurus car.

    Ford during this decade hasn't consistently developed Mercury versions of new models. For example, there's no Mercury version of the either the Ford brand's Taurus X or Edge wagons. Mercury's main introduction for this year is a redesigned Milan.

    Since 2002, Ford executives repeatedly have said they want to halt Mercury's sales slide. Fields said on Jan. 8 while the company is backing Mercury, ``we understand why people ask the question'' about the brand's future.

    Ford fell 14 cents to $6.17 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have declined 28 percent in the past 12 months.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Koenig in Chicago at wkoenig@bloomberg.net ;
  • Lets start discussion. I never was a Mercury fan, I bought mainly Mercury because it projected better image and felt as being more premium than similar Ford. And it is extremely reliable I have to say. And now I understand that it will be difficult for me to switch back to Ford - if Ford drops Mercury most likely I will switch to Honda or Saturn. Ford is a blue-collar brand. At least that the image it developed over time. If you give well-educated person choice between slightly anonymous but refined Camry or Ford with bold shining three bar grille (and utilitarian interior) what do you think he or her would prefer? At least with Mercury they had a choice to buy affordable Ford car and do not look like they did not do well at school.

    Toyota and Honda became Mercuries/Oldsmobiles of our time. They are not entry-level cars (and BTW Toyota has entry level brand – it is called Scion) - they are notch above Ford and Chevrolet but not at Buick or Lincoln level yet. May be that is the problem with Mercury and Oldsmobile – foreign brands like Toyota and Honda replaced them as mid-level brands in peoples mind.

    And BTW Mazda or Volvo are not replacement for Mercury as some may suggest. Volvo is too up level and expensive and Mazda is too sporty and youth oriented.
    Also consider Edge/MKX sales. It is disaster. Ford sales slightly more than GM Saturn/GMC/Buick CUV trio. And there is no Chevrolet yet in the picture. Basically with two Mercury-like brands GM sales as many CUVs as a mainstream high volume from Ford! When Chevrolet comes late this year – it will decimate Ford CUV sales. Was it the wise decision to not offer Mercury version of Edge? Probably not – Ford would easily have 25% more sales with little or no investment.Actually MKX is not much different from Edge - so what was the point?
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    It's interesting that you say you are (or were?) a Mercury owner because of the image it projected. My mom is the same way. She's a teacher and wants a MB SL, but she can't afford it. She won't drive a Chevy or Ford, so what does she do? I'll tell you: she drives a Nissan--and she looooves her Nissans. She's also the type (as am I) to shop at Target, but not Walmart. I think there is still a market for these people in the automotive landscape. For FoMoCo to basically abandon it is premature, IMO.

    Now-a-days in America, consumers are developing more sophisticated tastes (see Target, Starbucks, Gucci/Coach/LV, IPods, personal computers...) and it's not a bad thing. I think the Big 3 should realize they really have the opportunity to capitilize over where Toyota is deficient: the number of brands.

    About the articles, though, I think what management is saying is that they will be nixing Mercury in a few short years.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    Yes, they do seem to be saying that. Their assurance that there are new products coming, followed by examples like the upgraded hybrid and larger Mariner 4 cylinder says nothing at all new is on the way. The Mariner IS an Escape, and gets nothing different, other than some inconsequential trim. Same with the Fusion, er Milan and Mountaineer and Sable. At least with GM, you get to choose completely different body styles among the corporate siblings (e.g., the Impala, Grand Prix and LaCrosse look nothing alike..or the G6 and Malibu...or the Enclave and Acadia, etc.).

    I think one of the reasons Mercury has not gotten versions of the Edge or Flex is that sales of Mercury models of Ford vehicles have tanked. Mercurys have never been so closely cloned across the board from Fords as they are now. Meanwhile, Ford knows that the Edge and MKX are already too close in execution. A third cookie from the same cutter for Mercury would not have increased sales enough to justify even the minimal development and marketing costs required.

    This is the same story as Plymouth. Chrysler starved the division of new models. Badge engineering got so cynical that the Breeze was almost indistinguishable from the Dodge, and the Plymouth Neon was 100% a Dodge Neon, even using the same name! So Ford is telling us that Mercury is toast. They just don't know yet how to get out of their charade without too many expensive lawsuits, and before they know if Lincoln will be competitive and increase sales enough to no longer need Mercury.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    I can't see why Ford has a problem. I believe the new Ford Taurus and its Mercury Sable cousin have very nice interiors. I don't understand why they don't sell better.
    As for a "blue collar image", my sister has a graduate degree and works for a major phamaceutical company pulling down $130K+ annually. She has a Ford F-150 and just bought a new Focus. Her husband, who also has a graduate degree and a well-paid position has a 5-speed manual Fusion in addition to his Mercedes S430.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,138
    This is the same story as Plymouth. Chrysler starved the division of new models. Badge engineering got so cynical that the Breeze was almost indistinguishable from the Dodge, and the Plymouth Neon was 100% a Dodge Neon, even using the same name! So Ford is telling us that Mercury is toast.

    That seems to be a problem that Chrysler and Ford have always had. They just couldn't differentiate their models in the same fashion that GM could. GM could spread a platform across 4 or 5 divisions, yet every single model would have different sheetmetal, trim, interiors, etc. But then Ford or Chrysler would spread a platform across only 2 or 3 divisions, yet they'd just change the easy stuff like the taillights, grille inserts, seat patterns, ploodgrain, etc.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    The problem is Taurus and Sable are not "cousins" like Impala and Grand Prix and LaCrosse. They are the SAME CAR with front end and interior trim variations. Same with every other Mercury. Sort of like the difference as I've pointed out before between the Ford Explorer XLT and Explorer Limited. The Sable has no reall reason for existence, except that the Mercury network is still around and while it is, they need something to sell. But with that lack of commitment from the brass, is it any wonder the brand is shrinking away fast?

    I agree that Ford covers more than blue collar, though many Ford models do cover that demographic. The Ford GT was hardly blue collar. At times during its existence, neither was the T-bird. The Taurus years ago had the broad appeal of today's Camry. The Explorer was once far and away the most appealing SUV. Ford can do it again, if the will is there. Plans suggest they intend to.

    Whether the market will wait enough to allow them to recover any lost ground, no matter what they do now, is another question. They have such a long way to go to come back. The Fusion, for example, received praise and good marks. But most of the competition has since passed it by with better 4 cylinder engines, stability control and better interiors. The business has changed. No laurels resting, not even for a minute. Even the Camry is starting to come out toward the bottom of the heap in mid-size comparo tests. Ford not only needs the 2009 Fusion right now, but also needs to have most of the finishing touches of the next generation beyond that in the hopper.
  • jkr2106jkr2106 Posts: 231
    Yeah, they're "nice", but IMO the competition is so much better. Plus, its hard to look at the interior when you must first pass the frumpy exterior. About the blue collar thing, I have nothing bad to say about Fords, just that that is the perception(though the F-150 doesn't carry the same stigma). Of course societal generalizations are rarely true, but for many shallow people (like me) on the coasts we don't want 'regular' cars, because they're not just transportation (if people see cars as transportation, that's their prerogative). I don't think it's bad for Ford to have a "blue collar" image--it is what it is. I just want them to capitalize on the fact that Mercury is available to those who have that perception bias. Why kill it when it's still relevant...probably moreso now than ever?
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    Because sales charts don't lie. All the Mercury advertising can't cover the fact that there is nothing new there. It has gotten to the point as Gertrude Stein would say, there is no there there. The Milan may have a prettier grill than the Fusion, but otherwise offers nothing more. As people catch on that Mercury is dying, fewer still will buy, not just because there is nothing new at the sign of the Cat, but because owning a soon-to-be orphaned brand holds little appeal as well.
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