• Jan 16th 2007 at 1:02PM
  • 71
After last week's flurry of news from Detroit, we're realizing that little was heard from Mercury. Parent Ford certainly had some introductions and unveilings, but nothing from across the corporate hall. It makes us wonder whether the Mercury brand is going to completely wither and die, or if Ford's got some surprises left. There really seems to be little point to the brand. There are no Mercury-specific models like there once were (Cougar, Villager, etc.) and really nothing particularly compelling for sale. Perhaps giving Mercury a segment to fill would drive the brand.

More armchair quarterbacking after the jump

[Source: Detroit News]

How about nixing the Fusion and making the Milan the place to go for your C-segment car? The MKZ should hang around to fill the lux niche. The Milan is arguably more handsome than the Fusion, and definitely has a nicer interior. That'd at least give people one reason to enter the Mercury store. Mercury's game plan is to be the bridge between Ford and Lincoln; what that means for now is badge-engineering by way of fascias and accoutrement.

Once the Way Forward becomes a clear path, we may see the sun rise on new and distinctive Mercurys. Part of what's eating at Alan Mulally is that Ford globally is about more than the blue oval. There are several different branches on the family tree worldwide, each with distinct product. This stratification leads directly to us US drivers acting like Beatlemania-posessed teenage girls. Ga-ga over the Euro offerings; pressed up against the fence, trying to get at the Mondeo or Focus. Mulally is keen to bring Ford's worldwide operations closer together, and acknowledges that we deserve fewer Emperor's New Clothes "remakes," and more soul-stirring machinery.

There are different design themes between Ford in the US and Ford abroad. Part of merging and streamlining global operations will be a convergence of design. That doesn't mean F-Series trucks that look like the Transit, but it will mean finding some common themes that make Fords recognizeable worldwide. May we suggest, if they're hot to bring the European product over to the Colonies, making Mercury the sole agent for those uniquely-accented Fords? Spiffy interiors and different faces only go so far.

Letting Mercury be the sole outlet for something different than what's across town at the Ford lot would at least get some notice. There also exists an opportunity to punch-up the style coming out of Mercury. Style is largely a misnomer for the brand right now. The Grand Marquis has all the style of a pair of orthopedic shoes. Sure, it's a nice enough car; but there's not a line on the flanks that appeals to anyone under 70 that's not a cop or cabdriver. The Montego is even more ho-hum than its Ford Five Hundred sister. Only the Milan and the Mountaineer have some semblance of uniqueness to them, and they're far more handsome than their Ford counterparts. How about building on that? The Norelco grille is classier than the "three bar."

Let's not go wild, but hopefully things will improve as Ford starts to get their act together. Currently lagging GM's turnaround, the business term for Ford's current state is: a mess. They are looking to replace or redesign 70-percent of their offerings across all their brands by 2010. Expect key vehicles to have more attention lavished on them. "Key" must denote the cars that the brand is being staked on. We'll be waiting to see that kind of commitment from the Blue Oval. We've seen desperate, confused moves so far. Whoops, we mean we've seen Ford "focusing on its strengths, rather than matching the competition one-to-one with vehicles." Hopefully Mercury can recall it's the Cougar, not the cower.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mercury's slow devolution is a testament to the arrogance and privilege of Ford management over the years which "pushed" these distrubion brands on the American consumer - there's plenty of choice now and America has voted to ignore Mercury - a squandered brand that could be filling Ford coffers were it not for their ignorance and absence of brand thinking.

      Ask yourself, how high in the company is the most senior person directly responsible for the brand?
      This is not a branding company that values the consumer intrinsically. Henry Ford would cringe at current developments.
      Jonathan Hicks
      • 8 Years Ago
      I really want Mercury to live and to be revived in Canada. All it needs is to reintroduce the Cougar sports coupe and convertible and Marauder sports sedan (all with rear wheel drive, of course.), offer versions of the Edge, Freestyle, and Fairlane crossovers, replace the ancient Grand Marquis with an all new Marquis, (with the next Grand Marquis more upscale than the new base Marquis. They will offer rear drive too.) and sell a version of the new Focus sedan and coupe.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Lots of good ideas here.

      If Ford really had guts they would make Mercury Hybrid only vehicles. This would define the brand and move the brand on a path to acquire new customers for a change.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sully is 100% correct. Most armchair quarterbacks seem to think that doing away with Mercury is the same as throwing out the trash every week. It's not.

      Mercury, in it's current state, fills some necessary business-related things that actually help Ford. While it's not great for us Car nuts, but it's the corner Ford has painted itself into.

      The problem is, what *can* you do to make Mercury better? The biggest problem is that the line between basic transportation and luxury is burring more every day. It's becoming harder to seperate a Ford, Mecury based on options and what is considered luxury.

      I think Ford need to follow GM's approach, as they did with Cadillac and Buick. Yes, I feel Buick has a spot in GM. Basically Ford need to turn Lincoln into the bold "way out there" cars. Just like Cadillac is has the edge-y design language. Make Mercury into a luxury brand that is more soft and "boring", much like Buick. When buyers into a dealer they can chose between the ying and the yang. Whatever floats their boat.

      While I would *love* for them to bring over Ford of Europe or the Aussie Falcon, these cars would directly compete with Ford products and *that* is a bad thing.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Milan being more handsome than Fusion??? Oh c'mon! Not in my opinion! (as far as the European Ford-fan's opinion does matter :) Those seat-ibiza-like tail lamps are just terrible.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This has been discussed many times before, bringing over Ford of Europe’s offerings as Mercury’s like GM is doing with Saturn/Opel. I just don’t know if the Mondeo is different enough not to cannibalize Ford Fusion sales. On the other hand if someone wouldn’t have bought a Fusion to begin with but buys the Mondeo at least its money coming in. It would be better than what they have now.

      They could always make Mercury the “Green” brand of the group and offer hybrids, diesels and so forth.

      I think Mercury should be the near luxury, design based brand with Italian and European styling. Bring some Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Porsche styling cues and make it the sexy but affordable brand.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Today, Mercury is only here for stupid females who fall for simple rebadged vehicles and dumb males who think Mercury is sophiscated & classier than Ford.

      What a bunch of fools!!!!

      Mercury is Ford. If you stop buying the product Ford will get rid of Mercury.


      Its the only way it will die.
      g hguhes
      • 8 Years Ago
      two big niches - high-performance & handling or enviro,hybird, great gas mileage;

      Pick one and focus your brand there.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think saying that Mercury should go away, and that no one would miss it is a short-sighted premise. I would miss it, and so would many others. I remember my dad's Fox Capri from when I was very small, and that was only one of the three he has owned, in all three body styles it has been offered since the 70's. He has a Mustang now, but probably only because the Mercury version no longer exists.

      I have driven a turbocharged Merkur XR4Ti, and it was a blast. I wonder what a modern version would be like.

      Likewise the ASC McLaren and other Fox capris have a certain cache that Mustangs don't despite their badge-engineered nature.

      The LS was mis-placed, and should have been a Mercury with an even sportier edge, because it didn't seem to catch on with the Lincoln crowd.

      People complain that the Euro-Focus and Mondeo, S-Max and others would demand too much of a premium price for a Ford-badge and price structure, and people won't pay more for a Ford. That has been Mercury's traditional role. Premium versions of Ford cars, but not necessarily Lincoln's Luxury mobiles.

      It is interesting to see the posted sales numbers that other people put here.

      A couple of re-badged Fords is not a problem. ALL re-badged fords is unfortunate, but it hasn't always been the case.

      So Here is what I would suggest, and obviously, it is similar to what others have mentioned.

      1: import some Euro-market cars. Ka, Euro-focus/Mazda3 based compact 3 and 5-door, Euro mondeo 5-door sedan and wagon. Galaxy and S-Max variant. Modest size, Moderate price, and high content value.

      2: Milan styling cues go into Mercury version of Mondeo 5-door. Montego dropped. MKS full-size sedan and 500 are probably enough, with variant of Interceptor in the Mercury Lineup.

      3: Variant of the Mustang and Interceptor. IRS version with euro/british inspired design, and lighter weight. Short overhangs, with a fastback hatch. (think Jag XK and Shelby GR1 styling cues on a coupe based on the Mustang line, and priced in the 27-35k price range to compete with GTO and G35 Coupe. I suggest naming the base V6 model Capri, V8 Cougar and TT-V6 or Supercharged V8 Cougar Eliminator.

      3b: Interceptor based sport sedan, similarly smaller and lighter, IRS, short overhangs, european styling. 5-door hatch, 4-seat sport sedan (what people call 4-door coupe) similar in profile to the Jag C-XF concept, but not with Jaguar trademarks, and based on the S197 chassis and drivetrains. Names: Comet base model, Marauder V8 and Marauder Eliminator with the high-output drivetrains.

      Basically, this would cater to other enthusiasts than the more american-traditional roles of the Mustang and Interceptor, leaving those to appeal to their audience with live axles, and quarter mile prowess. while more focused and less posh than the Lincoln MKR and possible replacement for the Mark IX coupe.

      Galaxy-S-max renamed and with mercury trademarks could be alternatives to Chrysler's minivans and other car-based crossovers. With some performance, they could actually do quite well in the more practical realm.

      Sophisticated road performance, and grand touring in the compact to mid-size segments, leaving the larger cars, the luxury lineup, trucks, and economy cars to Ford and Lincoln.

      But that is just my idea.
      • 8 Years Ago
      mercury needs cars that can seprate it from ford. the only thing that seprates mercury from ford is the advertising spots on tv.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Eagle, Olds and Plymouth had no marketshare. They were pointless redundant brands that furthered badge engineering and did more to cannabalize sales of brands in the same company than conquesting people from foreign automakers. Chrysler and GM were absolutely right to discontinue them.

      Mercury is nothing more than Ford vehicles with a different grille and two-tone leather. That is literally it. Nobody in the US covets Mercury as a brand. It has zero desirability. Ford would be better off incorporating those two Mercury features into top model Ford vehicles than continuing to keep Mercury on an IV. Maybe after they freed up the money used to keep Mercury alive they could reinvest in making nicer FORDS.

      Lincoln is in the same shape, DEAD. Lincoln isn't even a credible threat to Cadillac anymore, that's how badly damaged that brand is and it's readily apparent Ford does not have the kind of money required to resurrect it like GM has Cadillac. Even if they did who would buy them? Nobody would care, nobody would clamor to the dealers for anything they put out.

      Jaguar has much more potential as a brand, and is a more credible fighter against Cadillac, the Germans, and even Lexus perhaps. A real premium foreign brand versus a stodgy dead brand associated with dying retirees who can't drive and airport taxis. Gee, which would I give a more serious look at if I were a well-off professional?

      Ford is spread way too thin, dumping both Mercury and Lincoln is the right thing to do. The sooner the better. Then start padding their lineup with a real Ford Focus, Ford Falcon, etc.
      • 8 Years Ago
      To be honest, Mercury has never even been on my radar as a male in his early 20s...
      In fact, the only car Mercury has ever produced that I liked was the Cougar, which I thought had a progressive styling, and was *somewhat* sporty. (Made decent power, but was such a heavy car that the weight/power ratio was nearly the same as my Saturn sc2.)
      I'd love to see a re-badged Mustang released in Cougar form, so that Mercury can offer a real, affordable sports car that isn't just another Mustang. (Insert yawn here.)

      Badge engineering makes sense in terms of an efficient business plan, but the public isn't stupid: Why pay more for car 'B' when car 'A' is cheaper, and offers close to the same thing in terms of performance and build quality...
      The best thing FMC can do for Mercury to avoid sharing the same fate as Oldsmobile is to bring over the Euro-Fords that are not available for North Americans!

      Saturn's strategy has been paying off thus far, and will likely continue as they prepare for their version of the Astra.

      You listening, Ford?
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