By on February 14, 2008

1949custombuiltmercury.jpgYesterday, we pondered which brand has most recently lost the plot. Today's plan was to have you ponder which brand is the most damaged. But why bother? We all know the answer. Hell, dogs know the answer. Mercury was created out of whole cloth to be Ford's entry-level-luxury division. Trouble is that seventy years down the line, Lincoln is FoMoCo's entry-level-luxury (and just barely). Leaving Mercury as… what? I have no clue. No one does. Seriously, what possible purpose does Mercury serve (for us, not Lincoln dealers)? Besides being an over-chromed Ford, does Mercury stand for anything? Put it this way, if Mercury fell in a forest, who'd give a shit? I don't know a single human being who owns a Mercury. Oh wait; I do. A dear friend of mine is a big noise in the Department of Water and Power's Union. When his Oldsmobile 98 finally (and literally) fell apart, he needed a replacement big American barge ("It wouldn't look good come election time if I showed up in a Japanese car"). A Grand Marquis with $9k on the hood was his for the taking. If he could've found a Crown Vic that cheap, he would've bought it. In summary, why hasn't Mullally dragged Mercury out behind the woodshed and put the division out of its misery? I mean, you heard anyone crying over Plymouth lately? 

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20 Comments on “QOTD: Mercury’s Youth In Asia?...”

  • avatar

    Oh I get it. Euthanasia.

  • avatar

    I have actually heard many people crying over Plymouth. They are calling on Chrysler to revive it now that they are independent again. Probably because Plymouth is kind of a symbol of Chrysler before the Germans ran them into the ground.

  • avatar

    Well, the Mariner’s grille is an improvement over the Escape’s crappy eggcrate effort. And the Milan has a “cleaner” look than the Fusion.

    I guess that nails it: Mercury is a better-looking Ford.

    The Marauder was pretty cool too (when gas cost half as much).

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    I have a related question: Which brand is more dead? Mercury? Or Edsel? If you had a new car coming to market and you weren’t sure what brand to put it under, wouldn’t Edsel be a better choice than Mercury? Edsel was an experiment that failed. Mercury is a what? I don’t know…..a cat that was cute when it was a kitten but now all you want to do is kick the damn thing when you see it.

  • avatar

    How do you winnow away the Mercury brand, yet keep enough paying Lincoln customers to keep the LM dealers profitable? Dealer profits are primarily from used cars and service, not new cars, so less (new car sales) is definitely not more (profit) as you have fewer of the more profitable services. Lincoln is not supposed to be a downmarket brand, so don’t expect to see any sub $30k MKwhatchamacallits.

    Perhaps Mercury will be winnowed to an affordable line of CUV’s, and then left to wither on the vine. That’s where the sweet spot in the market seems to be if you don’t have the money to come up with a unique lineup.

  • avatar

    Seeing as I’m not a lady, I’m always somewhat hesitant to admit how much I like Mercury cars. I’m hot for the Milan, which is weird because I wouldn’t really consider a Fusion and I’d buy a Mariner in a minute. That said, when it comes time to actually put my money down it’ll probably be on a Subaru, and I guess that might be their whole problem…

  • avatar

    Lincoln certainly doesn’t sell enough cars to support an entire stand-alone dealer chain. Whatever (granted, few) sales Mercury adds must maintain some dealers’ bottom lines.

    With that in mind, Ford certainly doesn’t want to bring an Oldsmobile-like death upon themselves. GM is too afraid to kill off one of their many parasitic brands these days, after the massive lawsuit payouts to disgruntled dealers immediately following the three-year-long closeout of Oldsmobile.

    I certainly don’t think Mercury would be missed as much by the marketplace, however. They don’t even have a single unique product.

  • avatar

    I agree that badge-engineering is a dead-end in this environment. For the US, at least, one possible strategy would be to position Mercury as Ford’s passenger car division, and let Ford handle trucks and SUVs. Then people would at least have a better idea what a Mercury was, exactly.

  • avatar
    Matthew Neundorf

    Mercury’s been MIA on Canadian soil for years, and I’d like to think we’re better for it… except of course us canucks only get to see Jill Wagner on timeshifted American HD feeds.

    mmmmmmmm timeshifted HD Jill Wagner….

  • avatar

    What mercury really is is a higher trim level for Fords. As in “a ford Fusion Mercury”, akin to a “E-class Benz Platinum”.

  • avatar

    I remember looking at the 2004 Explorer Eddie Bauer & Mercury Mountaineer. Some aspects of the Mercury were nice, but I personally loathed the cold interior: dull solids with that bullshit brushed alumninum trim. But what really turned me off from the Mountaineer was the ride; the suspension was significantly stiffer, I guess it was supposed to be “sportier” (the Mountaineer had more power, etc). But driven on the same road, the regular Explorer had a better ride. And so I bought that.

    Though if I had the money I would have loved to get the Lincoln Aviator, but new, that thing is ridiculously overpriced. Yes it the interior is great, but a 1-2 year devalue was close to 25%. Sorry.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Last gen Mercury Maurader with the Cobra motor and Kenne Bell FTW. My grandmother still has her Grande Markwys. Otherwise, beyond the aforementioned Maurader…I haven’t seen a Mercury in god knows how long.

    Wait, no. There was a kid I went to high school with who had one of those last gen Cougars with a intake, headers, exhaust, and underbody lights. I whuped him pretty good once with an I/E and more boost AWD 1st Gen DSM.

  • avatar

    “I agree that badge-engineering is a dead-end in this environment. For the US, at least, one possible strategy would be to position Mercury as Ford’s passenger car division, and let Ford handle trucks and SUVs. Then people would at least have a better idea what a Mercury was, exactly.”

    Mercury is car? I thought that was Pontiac. :-)

    It’s so simple everyone but an auto exec. can figure it out. Take Lincoln upmarket where it belongs and make Mercury a step up from a Ford.

  • avatar

    Oh, No.

    I just realized we are making a big mistake. We need to stop talking about Jill all the time. They are going to realize that she is more popular than the name brand and she will go the way of the Legend.

  • avatar

    Mercury has very different demographics (far more woman oriented – much like Honda) than Ford with much higher conquest rates overall. The % of Milan sales that came from cross-shopping with Accords is probably greater than the % of Fusion sales from the same pattern – not becuase the Milan itself is better prepared to handle the Accord, but because its style is not as polarizing, the dealership experience is overall better, and the brand is not FORD.

    Whether or not Mercury should continue to live is not, in my opinion, that complicated – it needs to die at some point or be completely changed think Scion-like (small, urban – hopefully not as ugly and cheaply executed as the new ones) or Prius-like (futuristic powertrain-only brand). Euro Fords will be U.S. Fords starting late next year, so that strategy won’t work either. Until Ford gets its brand image closer to that of Toyota or Honda – and it will as it launches the new Fusion this year, the Verve and updated Edge next year, the new Focus and new Explorer in 2010 – Mercury is a place where domestic-weary buyers are still willing to shop. And Ford needs that to help its overall corporate image in the longer run.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Since I don’t watch television, which is where I assume she appears, I have absolutely no idea who this “Jill Wagner” person is. So I’m automatically a non-customer.

  • avatar

    The problem with killing Mercury is that Ford would lose a lot of revenue. As GM found out when they killed Oldsmobile and Chrysler found out when they killed Plymouth, sales of their other cars don’t increase. Instead of going Buick or Dodge they scatter throughout the industry so the only real thing the company accomplishes is that they save on costs. Mercury sold about 170,000 cars last year. If the average cost was $22,000 that’s $3.7 billion dollars in lost revenue by killing Mercury that they wouldn’t necessarily make up.

    Of course if they’d just build interesting products that people want to buy Ford could grow themselves into a profit instead of having to save their way into a profit.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Stephan: Click on this link.

    If that isn’t everything you need to know, call your doctor.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “I don’t know a single human being who owns a Mercury.”

    I resemble that remark. I still own one of my Mercury Mystiques. It made sense at the time, the V6 on the Ford Contour was a hard come by, but the Mercury came with it, and anti-locks, traction control and airbags, and was more heavily discounted than the Ford. Dealers usually regard the smaller Mercs as a nuisance and are quicker to make a deal to move the metal.

    My kids were teenagers in the 90s and I did not want to have them driving something that I would worry about. The Mystique was reasonably sized, reasonably priced, well equipped, and I did not mind driving it when I had to.

    They are in their 20s now and two of them live in Chicago. I let them keep the 99 up there. It has a value of maybe $2000. They park on the street, and I loose no sleep over it. If it gets stolen or totaled, I will spend no time worrying about it.

  • avatar

    The whole marketing Mercury to women is an utter flop.

    The problem with Mercury is Ford. Mercury IS the Grand Marquis. Ford is too stupid to invest in the Panther platform, thus the Grand Marquis does not get invested in.

    Breaks down like this:

    No investment in Grand Marquis eventually equals No Mercury, period.

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