By on June 2, 2010

The Detroit News is reporting that Ford has called a press conference on “brand and product strategy” for later today. It is widely believed that The Blue Oval will use the conference to announce the wind-down of its Mercury brand. Fresh updates as they occur...

UPDATE: The WSJ [sub] confirms that Ford’s board made the decision to axe Mercury. According to their sources, Ford “hopes to merge many of those dealers with existing Ford dealerships or shut them.”

UPDATE: Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports from the press conference, quoting Ford’s Mark Fields as saying

Given our improving financial situation, it really allows us to absorb the short-term cost of discontinuing Mercury… We’re very proud of Mercury’s history, but we’re now looking forward.

CNN Money confirms that the death of Mercury will mean more vehicles for Lincoln, as it paraphrases Ford’s Derrick Kuzack as saying:

Over the next several years, Lincoln will get seven all-new or drastically changed vehicles

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78 Comments on “BREAKING: Ford Calls “Brand And Product Strategy” Press Conference, Mercury Axing Confirmed...”


  • avatar

    And if rumors of the small Euro-Mercury getting a Lincoln badge instead is true, get your barf bags handy.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Ford Axing Mercury? About time they did something right.

    Now keep the momentum going and ax Lincoln as well…after all, Lincoln has even worse sales than Mercury…

  • avatar
    Verbal

    And while they’re at it, ax the Ford brand. Wait. Never mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      With the mediocre appliances Ford has come out with in the past 5 years…that may not be a bad idea.

    • 0 avatar

      You need to go back on your meds, Silvy. Those “mediocre products” are increasingly eating Gov’t Motors’ lunch!

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Who outsold who last month?

      And what other automaker shared the same fleet percentage as Ford of 37%

    • 0 avatar
      Loser

      Fleet sales of GM’s four core brands rose 44 percent compared to a year earlier, representing about 38 percent of the automaker’s total volume.

      Ford’s fleet sales, meanwhile, climbed 32 percent last month thanks to increased sales of trucks to commercial customers.

      From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100602/AUTO01/6020390/1148/auto01/Chrysler+sales+up+33++for+May++Ford++GM+rise+23+++16.6+#ixzz0pkgiUCW2

    • 0 avatar

      Certainly let’s compare!

      The Mustang trounced the Camaro.

      The F-Series continued to reign over the Gov’t Motors truck line (Chevy and GMC combined).

      Focus outsold Cobalt yet again.

      Fusion beat the Malibomb.

      Besides, Ford is the automaker with momentum right now, with the Fiesta launch and upcoming new Focus. It also has a clearer vision — finally — for what Lincoln should be, versus Cadillac’s seeming death spiral.

      What does Gov’t Motors have coming? The Cru-Z-Woo… and the looming battery-fire-in-your-garage that is the Volt.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    One thing I’ve noticed over several years now is that while Ford managed to secure the lincoln.com domain (they had been using lincolnvehicles.com), they never seemed to put much effort into obtaining the mercury.com domain from Hewlett-Packard. To me, that was a sign of doom going back at least a couple of years.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Back when the Big 3 dominated the industry, there was room in the market for a dressed up Ford. Those days are long gone, time for Mercury to go. I’ll bet most people won’t even notice that they’re gone.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      +1 Correct. I do miss Oldsmobile but after decades of “platform sharing” I realize that an LTZ trim package Chevy with leather is likely about as good as GM would be doing with Oldsmobile if it was still around. If I was really going to buy a Mercury Milan for example, I’d be just as happy with a loaded Fusion.

  • avatar
    441Zuke

    mercury died when they killed to rwd cougar and the grand marquis

  • avatar
    Tstag

    If GM could kill Pontiac which has 100,000’s of sales, what’s taking so long with Lincoln and Mercury?

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Mercury was a dead brand walking at least since that Sean Penn movie with the same title came out in 1995.

    441Zuke may be wrong about Grand Marquis, but right after the failure of the 1996 Taurus/Sable, the 1997 decision to ax Thunderbird, Cougar and Probe led to Mercury’s doom. Remember that this was a time when Ford boosted investment in big trucks, almost none of which got the Mercury label. Then there was Premier Auto Group and Mazda, plus all the other digital businesses Jacques Nasser was buying when he took over as CEO.

    Talk about ADD! Mercury suffered from all of the above. Nasser supposedly wanted to kill Mercury, but the Ford family prevailed. Their stay of execution seemed justified after GM shelled out billions to dealers to shutter Oldsmobile. Then Nasser got canned and the heat was off Mercury for awhile.

    Mullally has no emotional ties to dear old Edsel I. When 10-year sales numbers go from 400K to under 100K and less than 1% market share, plus the brand has no cache with non-AARP buyers, what other business decision is there to make?

  • avatar
    86er

    (AP) DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. will announce Wednesday that it plans to kill its 72-year-old Mercury brand, according to two people briefed on the decision.

    The automaker (NYSE) plans to add models to the Lincoln lineup to give dealers more products to sell, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the official announcement has not been made.

    Ford has scheduled a conference call with dealers and a news conference for late Wednesday afternoon. The company said in a statement that the conference would be an important product and brand discussion.

    Mercury, which sells the Milan midsize car and Mariner midsize sport utility vehicle, has been suffering for years from a lack of new products and advertising support from Ford.

    Its sales peaked in 1978 at more than 580,000 vehicles but just over 92,000 Mercurys were sold last year.

    So far this year, the Mercury brand has captured less than 1 per cent of the U.S. market, while the Ford brand has 15 per cent.

    The decision to “give Lincoln more product” obviously means that Ford is managing the dealer wind down, cautiously trying to avoid big lawsuits that could stymie their current momentum.

    As I mentioned in a previous thread, combining Lincoln into existing Ford dealers would make more sense, like in Canada.

    Stand-alone Lincoln stores sound unviable.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Now what’s ol’ Alan Jackson going to sing about???

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Has the Mercury Girl given her opinion of this news?

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Sad news, but only becuase I remember how differentiated Mercurys were in my youth. With what they are today, I guess it’s overdue.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Mercury is officially dead. Lincoln will get the Merc Focus. Time to resurrect the “Versailles” nameplate?

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    My 1st ride was a 1972 Mercury Cougar XR-7 with a transplanted 351CJ. One day I went to pass another car, and trompped it. All4 ventri valves suck open, and at 80 MPH, both wheels spun – as I passed the other car.

    I was so surprised and frighted I pulled over and turned off the car. The other driver caught and looked at me like I was out of my mind. That engine ate 3 FMX trannys, I donated the car to my brother when I went off to college.

    It was over decade old when I got, and must have been near 20 when it was retired. I sure miss it (but not on black ice).

    Bye Mercury, you will be missed more than just me.

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      The first Mercury I remember was my dad’s 1965 Montclair with a breezeway window. He bought it from a friend in 1969, after throwing in the towel on schlepping a family of five around in a trusty old VW beetle. It was unstoppable, fast, and would probably still be around had the body not rusted right off the frame.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    This shouldn’t be this big of news…we have known about this for a long time.

    Remember when Ford announced that they are (foolishly) killing the Panthers? Well…without the Grand Marquis, there is no Mercury.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      For the first time in history, you have made a relevant point. The Grand Marquis (And for a short period, the Mountaineer) was the only thing keeping Mercury alive in the last decade.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    Mixed feelings – I liked Mercury in theory, just like I liked Pontiac and Saturn in theory. Still, neither myself nor anyone I know ever bought or owned a Mercury. Guys in my family tend to drive pickups, and the women in my family, which it seems like have been Mercury’s target demographic of late, would just get a random Asian sedan. This makes excellent business sense, although it seems to exacerbate the blurring of Ford and Lincoln we are seeing (i.e. Taurus and Lincoln’s similarly optionable sedan whose alphanumeric I actually can’t remember and refuse to look up on principle).

  • avatar
    iceman34572

    As sad as I am to hear that they have officially declared their intent to discontinue the Mercury brand, they should have done it earlier, back when the brand still had some dignity, instead of letting it die a slow, painful, unforgettable death.

    On a side note, they should have Jill Wagner do the Ford and Lincoln commercials. Don’t toss her aside. ;)

  • avatar
    new caledonia

    In general, dropping Mercury makes sense. But our local L-M dealer has a good reputation, while I know more than a few people who intensely dislike our local Ford store. Hope Ford doesn’t transfer the Lincoln franchise to them.

  • avatar
    Rusted Source

    I’ll take your Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer and raise you a Mercury.

    Chrysler it’s your play, do you wish to call or raise?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Over the years, Chrysler has already shut down DeSoto, Imperial, Eagle (which had been AMC before Chrysler bought that company) and Plymouth. I don’t think it has much left to put in the game.

    • 0 avatar
      Rusted Source

      In terms of North American brands under management, they still lead the way (tied with GM).

      4 Chrysler
      4 GM
      3 Toyota
      2 BMW
      2 Daimler
      2 Ford
      2 Honda
      2 Hyundai
      2 Jaguar Land Rover
      2 Nissan
      2 VW
      1 Mazda
      1 Mitsubishi
      1 Porsche
      1 Subaru
      1 Suzuki

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Make that six brands for Chrysler once Fiat and Alfa arrive (as announced by Marchionne).

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Imperial wasn’t a full fledged brand. It did not have it’s own dealer network. So Chrysler has shut down 2 longstanding brands (DeSoto and Plymouth) and one short time brand (Eagle) which was a bridge between AMC/Jeep and Chrysler’s takeover of Jeep.

      Fiat and Alfa will not be managed by Chrysler at all. They may provide a sales channel but they will have no authority over the brands so they can’t be counted as part of Chrysler’s responsibility. Toyota had more responsibility over Chevy Cavaliers sold in Japan since they had the Toyota brand on them than Chrysler will for Fiat and Alfa.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Chrysler registered Imperial as a separate make for the 1955 model year. It treated Imperial as a marque separate from Chrysler through 1970. The public, however, literally didn’t buy it, as the car was regularly referred to as the Chrysler Imperial.

    • 0 avatar
      essen

      @th009 Or will it be 8 brands under Fiat (including Ferrari and Maserati)?

  • avatar
    postman

    Go ahead and get rid of Mercury, but let’s make sure we keep Jill Wagner!!

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Yeah, really, what’s left to shed? Fiat has few choices. They can either keep Jeep or sell it, revitalize Dodge and Chrysler if they can, or shut ’em down if they can’t. If the latter happens, I seriously doubt there will be another round of Fed cash forthcoming.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Jill?

    Noooooooooooooooooooo!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Keeping Lincoln makes sense if they upgrade the product and the dealership experience along with it. There are lots of profit dollars to be made selling relatively few vehicles to those who are willing to pay for something a cut above.

    Toyota needs Lexus.
    Nissan need Infiniti.
    Honda needs to FIX Acura.
    Ford needs Lincoln to maximize the return on platform investments.

    Mercury, on the other hand, lives in a no man’s land with Buick, Saab and other “near luxury” pretender brands. As mainstream vehicles have pushed their feature and style content upwards and traditional luxury brands have extended their lines downwards, there really isn’t a home for stuck-in-the-middle brands.

    RIP Mercury, you were mistreated as a child and ignored as an adult. Rest in peace for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      John…
      What has happened at Honda!??
      The designs coming from that company recently have really got me to worrying.

      And your right about these companies needing the second tier for extended sales of chassis and such.
      What bewilders me is how many on TTAC bash Ford for this platform sharing, yet are blind to how much it is done.
      It’s such commonplace, it’s silly to read when it is realized.
      Not only within a company like Lincoln and Ford, but between competing companies as well.
      Ford shares with Fiat.
      Hell, they ALL share, or they die.
      The cost is to high not to.

      Let’s hope Ford awakens and dumps the Taurus SHO and replaces it with the Fusion SHO.
      Just let the Taurus be the Avalon fighter and NOT more.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I think you are wrong about Buick, however.
      I think we are going to see a revival here.
      Chevy will be the blue collar car, Caddy the performance…and Buick the tweener.
      Part blue collar, part performance.
      Between both.
      Not sure if it will work, but that’s what is happening.
      More than likely we will end up with another Mercury here, IF they cannot keep then distinct enough.
      Buick will have to hold a solid pricing slot between Chevrolet and Cad.
      If not, IF this becomes muddled like Ford/Mercury?Lincoln is now it’s over.
      The trouble is the dealerships keep looking at what colors the others have and start demanding their own…and the whole thing ends up looking like muddy water.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    That’s a nice eulogy, John. It sums up Mercury’s lot in the marketplace perfectly.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Always the odd traditionalist, I will miss Mercury. Why??? Well, for several reasons. My extended family on my mom’s side are Ford people, and there have been and still are, many Mercury’s in the family. As a kid my grandparents and aunts and uncles owned several Cougars, later replaced with Grand Marquis, Sables and a Montego. My first car lot job at 21 was at Sesi Lincoln-Mercury of Ypsilanti, MI, a rather large and successful store. I worked hard there, but I have fond memories of being around all those cars, and constantly pining for a rear-drive Cougar.

    Mercury was very much like Oldsmobile, in that it offered style and luxury that seemed just a cut above the rest. While it’s true that these same levels of luxury can be found in the mainstream brands today, the traditionalist in me is going to miss the old mid-market names.

    But that’s just me…

    Excuse me while I go and take my parents Sable LS for a ride.

    -Richard

    • 0 avatar
      iceman34572

      I still have a Mercury; a 1996 Sable LS as my work car / parts runner / winter car. I know it’s just a rebadged Taurus with different body cladding, but it isn’t bad to drive at all.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Well, one difference I was aware of was that the Sable had struts all around, while the lowly Taurus had to make do with shocks in the back.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Wow, I didn’t think this would ever actually happen. And only about 20 years too late. To see a big-three make a tactical pragmatic decision without being forced, its…just…shocking.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I’d like to say I’ll miss Mercury especially after selling them for 25 years but there’s nothing left to miss of Mercury. As I said before on another Mercury thread combining Lincoln with Ford will be Lincoln’s final death knell as Lincoln is all but dead now.

  • avatar
    ccttac

    Sad to see them go. Re: Lincoln – Sure hope they give the seven upcoming cars NAMES. MKZ, or whatever, not memorable at all.

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    In my lifetime, there has only been one Mercury product that wasn’t just a rebadged Ford. Mercury could have been something, but these days, car companies can’t have two brands that are too close to each other. Buick and Cadillac are having the same problem. Same with Scion and Toyota, to a smaller extent (plus, Scions are easily seen as different from Toyotas).

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Methinks you must pretty young then, because there’s been 2 in recent history – the FWD Cougar and the Aussie sourced Capri convertible. Go a little further back and you have the original European Capri. Granted, they were based on Ford platforms sold here or elsewhere in the world, but they had no Ford branded sibling in this market.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I will miss Mercury, but if nothing else it will simplify our dealerships ordering process. Now we won’t have to split lot space between Milans and Fusions or Mariners and Escapes, we can just go with the one model and get more variety in configurations there.

    As far as the new Lincolns go, six new models sounds impressive, aside from the upcoming Lincoln compact, I don’t know what to expect from the rest. A big part of me hopes that there’s a Mark IX in the mix somewhere, hopefully with a convertible version as well.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    Hooray!

  • avatar
    NickR

    The last interesting car they built was the ’70 Cougar Eliminator (I am not counting the euro-Capri, that’s cheating). 40 years without anything noteworthy is long enough. No more ‘My baby bought a Mercury.’

  • avatar
    findude

    I loved driving my parents’ 1968 Cougar, which wasn’t just a re-badged Mustang.

    I won’t miss Mercury–never even contemplated buying one on my own.

    Lincoln needs to be aggressively moved upmarket while maintaining the advantages of platform sharing. Replacing those silly three-letter names and going back to some properly inspiring names wouldn’t hurt either.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I guess I haven’t been keeping up on my stats but I heard in one of the news stories that Mercury still outsells Lincoln. Really?

  • avatar
    NickR

    Where’s the damn edit button? Anyway, what I meant to say was that being the case, Lincoln needs even more resuscitating than I realized.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    This makes me sad. I mostly loved/liked the various iterations of Cougar. Too bad. But I understand. When you neglect something for so long, it’s more humane to just kill it than watch it drag on any longer (I hope my kids aren’t reading this…)

    At the rate the Ford folks are going, they should kill Lincoln and bring back Merkur…Based on the number of new Lincoln XYZ’s I’ve seen on the road, that would give them more of a chance of success. Face it, those of us who are old enough to remember the travesty of Merkur are probably a more forgiving lot. And those of us who don’t might think it’s a cool new brand.

    MMMmmmm take a Fusion, graft a hatch onto it, then Ecoboost it into a new XR4Ti…uh, yeah.

    Or maybe they could just ditch the overall parent brand thing, and do what GM once considered doing, and have various models from previous brands all under one roof, with the small GM chicklet thing.

    Under one roof you may have a Town Car, a Capri, and a Cougar, whereas over at GM, they’d have a Grand Am, a Cutlass, a Riviera, maybe an Omega…whatever. If it’s a decent product and there is name recognition, do we really need separate dealers and all the other BS? The old days of true brands, with separate platforms and powertrains is over with anyway.

    Then again, none of this matters much. The heyday is in China, and we’ll soon be powering our Chinese imports with seawater from the Gulf. So whether a few of us will miss the Cougar, or need to experience a new XR4Ti is not relevant.

  • avatar
    Commando

    When GM ended B/C production in ’96, I ran out as fast as I could and bought one of the last ones. I held on to that car until recently.
    Boys, looks like it’s time for me to saddle up again…

  • avatar
    ern35

    My first car was a 1954 Mercury—but trimmed in Canada with a different grill and some distinctive markings and sold as a Monarch—2-door, maroon and white, V8 and automatic with a neat-sounding exhaust, bought it used privately and had it for a little over 4 years. Heck, I was 21 and felt that I was ‘king of the road’—Fitted with the traditional white-wall tires and that massive bumper, it was a sharp-looking car. Fond memories all!

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    This is sad but not unexpected.The first car I fell in love with, first one I ever waxed and learned how to drive on was my parent’s 66 Mercury Montclair 4 door sedan. Beautiful blue green with an aqua interior.

    First car I bought on my own when I went to college was a 66 Mercury Comet Caliente 2 door hardtop with an avocado green Earl Scheib paint job and a “Honk If You Love Jesus” sticker on the back bumper. $200 from my Mother’s cousin in Woodland Hills.

    I was a fan of Mercury for years,it was like a childhood friend, but it disappeared as a brand under a pile of Bobcats, Monarchs, Zephyrs, Marquis and Villagers. And a cynical corporate disregard for the concept of actually offering more for the extra money paid besides a a different grille pattern and a red reflector strip between the tail lights. You got things like better upholstery, a quieter ride, a longer wheelbase, more standard equipment, a larger standard engine, a marque specific dashboard, different styling. Things that made a Mercury different in character than a Ford as well.

    Chrysler did a better job of differentiating the Avenger/Sebring this last time out than Ford has done with any two cars sold by both Ford and Mercury over the past 20 years.

    In 1969, Ford spent $250,000,000 to re-tool and almost relaunch a Mercury that was less like a Ford and more like a Lincoln. That was the same amount spent in the 50s to launch Edsel. Then they spent the next 40 years running away from the concept.

    Really, the only times Ford actually expended the effort with Mercury in a serious fashion was in 49-52,57-60,65-71.

    It’s been a long slow death for what used to be my favorite brand.
    What a waste of brand equity, time, effort and capital. The definition of a corporate circle jerk.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      @Really, the only times Ford actually expended the effort with Mercury in a serious fashion was in 49-52,57-60,65-71.

      And 49-51 was an accident. Ford’s planned 49 lineup was well along when some fresh blood came in and decided that the planned 49Ford was too big and heavy to be a Ford. So, the 49 Ford that we know was the result of a last-minute crash program. The originally planned Ford became Mercury, the original Mercury became the Lincoln, and the original Lincoln became the Lincoln Cosmopolitan. Look at how closely the 49 Merc resembled the 49 regular Lincoln, and you will see the Ford/Mercury twinning that had been the plan.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I will miss Mercury. When I was 11 or 12, a family friend had a black 68 Montclair fastback 2 door. I loved that car. Every time I got in for a ride, I felt like Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O.
    One of my best high school friends had a blue 68 Cougar that was a really good looking car until the northern Indiana salt got to it.
    My only Mercury was an 86 Fox-body Marquis wagon, and I liked that car a lot. The 3.8 V6 with the 3 speed C-5 was a really pleasant drivetrain, much moreso than the 5.0 with the AOD that was in the 85 Vic that replaced the Marq. But of course, my little wagon was just a Ford LTD with classier looking instruments.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    My Dad had an ’84 Marquis Brougham with that 3.8 V-6/C-5 combo. It was a nice car, well-built, reliable but bland. He replaced it with a Maxima five years later simply because it was a more exciting, better performing, more fun car to drive and he could still get $4 or $5K on the trade-in.

    He agreed that Mercury was nothing but a gussied-up Ford LTD, but my mother — mainly a Buick loyalist – felt strongly that if he wasn’t going to buy another Buick for his own car, he shouldn’t “downgrade” to a Ford. She always associated Ford with when they were poor and drove clapped-out clunkers. My Dad was a smart man and paid the extra $500 or $1000 to maintain domestic bliss.

    My mother, may she rest in peace, defined the market for mid-level American brands like Mercury, Olds, Pontiac, Buick, Chrysler, etc. Something nicer than Chevy/Ford/Plymouth, but not as flashy or expensive as Cadillac or Lincoln.

    While it’s a little sad that old people’s products die with them, it’s also quite normal. That’s a reality that only Forbes’ Jerry Flint conveniently ignores.

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