For all the praise and positive comparisons he earns, Ford’s Alan Mulally still refuses to man up and acknowledge that at least one of his firm’s brands is as meaningful to the American consumer as Kaiser or Cord. And it’s not like Mulally can just ignore the brand’s slide into ignominy: after all, people notice when you never introduce new products for a brand that was wholly comprised of cheap rebadges in the first place. Well, Inside Line noticed, and they cornered Mulally at the Washington Auto Show to get his take on the brand with no purpose.
“The plan right now is (to develop) Ford, Lincoln and Mercury,” Mulally answered.
He said Ford is working to more effectively position Mercury with smaller vehicles that occupy the void between the mainstream Ford brand and Lincoln, which directly targets the luxury-premium market. “That’s our plan — to continuously improve the Mercury and Lincoln brands,” Mulally said.
But after a little more discussion, Mulally felt compelled to reiterate: “That’s the plan right now.”
Could Mulally be more tentative? Mercury will continue to exist so that Lincoln can focus on rebadging larger vehicles? And this after Lincoln’s latest concept was the compact Concept C? It’s impossible to deny that Alan Mulally has done a lot of good at Ford, but his inability to take Ford’s luxury brands seriously is a major black mark on his tenure that analysts can only ignore for so long.
The “Mercury treatment” (i.e. throw the monthly output of a small chrome factory at an up-optioned Ford) will play especially poorly with Ford’s new global Focus and Fiestas, and will serve only to futher cement Mercury’s status as an unfunny joke played at the expense of the American consumer. Not to mention Mullaly’s well-intentioned desire to add more premium appeal to Ford-brand offerings. The sooner Mulally realizes that Mercury’s main competition is the JC Whitney catalog, the better.