15 Years Of Free-Falling Mercury Sales
May 28th, 2010 1:15 PM Share
Mercury isn’t the only entry-luxury brand in free-fall… it’s just the worst of a beat-up bunch. We’ve included Lincoln to help illustrate Ford’s larger luxury-brand issues, and Buick and Acura for competing-brand comparison.
Published May 28th, 2010 1:15 PM
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The Mercury trend is not news to me, but the Buick trend is. I had no idea they were in lockstep. What about Buick sales in China? Certainly that shows an upward trend, maybe just as steep as its decline in the US. As for Mercury, evidently you need more than a hot model (Jill Wagner) to sell cars; you need product.
When I heard that Ford was thinking of killing Mercury, my mom (who knows nothing about cars) was with me. She seemed kind of sad that Mercury was gone (but that was because I was there). I asked, "Can you name a Mercury product?" She thought that Mercury was a car name, like the Fusion or Focus. When people don't know that you have a brand, maybe you should kill it.
I've long fancied myself a Ford guy. My grandfather worked at Ford his whole life, at the Cleveland engine plant known for the 351C. He helped set up the Windsor plant (351W). We had to buy Fords, else suffer the wraith. That is, until he retired and bought one of the first K-cars. But that's another story. So I've owned 3 Mercury's. For my first two, I more or less sought a loophole, and bought re-badged imports. My first car was a Mercury Tracer (re-badged Mazda 323). It was a wonderful car, with fine ergonomics, fun to drive, and hatchback practical. In ocean blue, it even looked nice, and I put over 100 trouble free miles on it. I firmly believe if my make-up applying ex hadn't totaled it, the Little Tracer That Could could have easily gone 100K more miles. My (our) second Mercury was a Villager minivan (re-badged Nissan Quest). That too, was a wonderful car and would have gone many, many more miles had my ex not wanted something less mommy-mobile, despite our having two children. Now that I'm divorced with 5 kids in the new family mix, I still miss that car. My third Mercury was a Grand Marquis, and my first true Mercury Ford re-badge. I had other fords in between, and they were all fine cars. I put over 100K on the Grand Marquis, and as we all know by now, the Panther cars will last longer than us. But the Grand Marquis was always a car I liked for its virtues (dependable, spacious, comfortable, reasonable fuel economy, seats six in a pinch). But didn't LOVE (cheap interior, 80 year old women are my automotive doppelganger motorist contemporaries). While shopping for a replacement, I stumbled upon the Ford dealership. I wanted to LOVE their cars. I'm a Ford guy, right? I considered the Fusion and the Escape, as well as their Mercury counterparts. I looked at the Lincolns too. The Fords were cheap. The Escape's door handle felt like it would break off in my hand, it was very noisy, and I still can't warm to the new style. I owned an Escape prior to the Grand Marquis. I'm not your typical American car hater. I wanted to LOVE the Escape. Alas, I could not. The Fusion's styling, right off the bat, held me at an arm's reach (though this re-style they just did is certainly better than the original). I found the Mercury Milan was interesting to look at. Not so off-putting. However, both cars' interiors failed to impress. The cloth was ok, but the "leather" certainly was not. I don't know where Ford sources the cows for their leather interiors, but these are not natural cows. These cows have issues, and I believe they are the same cows Wal-Mart sources for their shower curtains. I believe there has been some serious de-contenting since the early days of the Fusion, when I could stick my head in the window and smell the other kind of cow skin, you know, the expensive kind of cow. The kind most of us eat. The Lincoln's interior...Listen, I'm a car guy, I can't for the life of me tell you which Lincoln model is based off he Fusion. It simply doesn't matter to me. I know there is a Lincoln that is the same as the Fusion and the Milan. But the marketing whizzes over there have completely confused me and themselves, and I won't dedicate any time to learning the Lincoln car names. Perhaps at one time it was a Zephyr? Who cares... At any rate, the anonymous Lincoln XYZ had a very nice smelling leather interior. I think they made it with the skins of those Kobe beef cows (sorry PETA people). I think those cows were pampered, and fed good stuff, and quaffed before they were skinned. The Lincoln, I'm telling you, almost smelled Lexus good. So here's a thought Ford: I know putting real leather (and soft touch plastics) in all of your cars is a stretch. But why not make Mercury a real step-up, and bless it with honest-to-goodness partial leather? You know, half Kobe and half shower-curtain? Leave the full Kobe with the soft vinyl wrapped dash for your premo- Lincoln XYZ, but bless the Mercury with the partial organic, partial petroleum interior. And for the Fords, let those folks deal with Armor-All'ing their seats. I realize the days of giving us bona fide Mercury models, like the Cougars were, or even interesting (curious?) re-badges such as my Mercury Tracer, are long gone. So at least give us something a little more tangible. Give Mercury owners something to really brag about. When I pull up to a light in my Milan, next to the poor sap in the Fusion, let me roll down my window, Gray Poupon style, and as if I already digested my sandwich, waft my hand back and forth so I can share the fine 50% Kobe leather smell in his direction.
Trailer Trash: Very interesting. Smithfield Packing does the same thing with bacon. The lady looks at it as it passes, and sends some to the expensive package, and the rest to the cheap-same bacon. Once at GM's Willow Run plant the emblems got mixed; Pontiacs with Buick insignia ad naseum.