• Dec 3, 2007
click above image for high-res gallery of the 2009 Lincoln MKS

Ford is reporting that its Lincoln luxury brand will overtake Mercury in sales sometime in 2008. Now, if you replaced 'Mercury' in that last sentence with a word like 'Cadillac' or 'Lexus', then we might have some news to talk about. Instead, this appears to be further evidence that A) Lincoln's sales are improving, but too slow to overtake any of its competitors, and B) Mercury is destined to remain nothing more than a well-defined trim level for Ford. Don't get us wrong. We're not saying Mercurys are bad vehicles, we're just saying they're Fords.

Nevertheless, Lincoln is building some sales momentum thanks to the fact that it's actually getting new models like the MKX crossover. Next summer the MKS sedan will also go on sale, and Lincoln sales will likely get another shot in the arm. That should do it for Mercury in this bout of sibling rivalry, since it has no new models scheduled, and certainly none exclusive for the brand.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here's a proposal.

      Ford - Entry/Midrange/Semi-Lux (As it is)
      Merc - Ax
      Lincoln - Ax
      Volvo - $$$ Luxery, Hybrid, Safety Vehicles
      Mazda - Performance, Youth

      It'll never be that simple, but I think it's fairly ideal.

      As for GM...

      Saturn - Ax
      Pontiac - Performance, Youth
      GMC - Ax
      Chevrolet - Entry/Hybrid/Semi-lux
      HUMMER - Ax
      Saab - Ax
      Cadillac - As it is
      Buick - Ax

      Three ought to be the maximum number of brands. Fewer plants, better cars, less confusion.

      • 7 Years Ago

      So I guess Ford might eliminate the Mercury brand after all. I will be sad to see it go. Hope they do come up with some plan to retain Mercury.
      • 7 Years Ago
      For the last time, all mainline Ford cars will be Euro-platform sourced (except the D's) by 2012 at which point Mercury would be nothing different any more.

      No, they have the right goal for Mercury - offer something different from Ford; more muted designs, a sort of quiet elegance without a huge sticker. We get the Fiesta in 2009, the Focus in 2010, the Fusion/Mondeo in 2011 at which point there will be basically no difference between Euro and U.S. cars.
      • 7 Years Ago
      While this is good for Lincoln, I find it amazing that Mercury has been left to to rot so badly. Mercury is such a great name for a car company, how could it get screwed up so badly?

      I hate to beat a dead horse, but I think Lincoln has to go further upscale to get away from Ford and Mercury, and Mercury needs to bring the Euro Fords over, kinda like Saturn is doing, along with a couple RWD V8's, as others have said here.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The trick is, not to embrace Mercury's resemblance to ford, but distance them from each other.

      Close duplication just stagnates product. Modest overlap with differentiation is the key.

      I am not sure that I agree with the previous commenter that suggested that Mercury become the traditional Muscle department, like pontiac. (first off, Pontiac isn't becoming that... Camaro and Corvette would never let it.) But the ford trucks, and the Mustang, and perhaps a new RWD mainstream sedan that would make sense as a ford.

      Traditional muscle-type cars belong more under the blue oval. Traditionalists would prefer it, where traditionalists would not so much like a modern enthusiast car, or to buy their traditionally-based car with a mercury badge.

      Ford isn't directly analagous to chevy, it is sort of Chevy and Pontiac condensed together. Lincoln is more like a split difference between Cadillac and Buick, and trying to be an american lower-end lexus. That is fine. I think they should push upward and match Cadillac, and really compete.

      Mercury is sadly being ignored, despite whatever ford execs may say. They'll say whatever they want to shore up confidence in the company, but where the rubber hits the road, it is reality that Mercury has nothing.

      Mercury needs to be differentiated. FoMoCo BADLY needs to get in the ring with Infiniti, Acura, and Audi. Lincoln is more like Lexus, and not performance oriented.

      Mercury, as the other half of Lincoln, makes perfect sense to go after those more performance and enthusiast market, above Mazda's position, with a touch of premium equipment.

      Ford tries to sell Shelbys at ~$50k... but what do they have to go up against the A5/G37/335? NOTHING.
      What do they have as a car to go up against the A6, G35 Sedan, or Acura TL/RL, G8, or undercut the CTS? Nothing. What do they have to go up against premium compacts like Mini? The C30? Fully loaded MazdaSpeed3? What are they going to do about cars like the Genesis Coupe that is trying to undercut the Mustang itself?

      All should be answered by a pair of new and different Mercurys, a RWD Cougar coupe, and sporty Marauder sedan. (rear-biased AWD would be welcome...)

      Kinetic styling, with a waterfall grille, and a sleek profile. (leave blockier traditional styling to Ford and Art-Deco for Lincoln)
      A Fastback hatch 3-door for the new Cougar (but please no other design elements from the FWD car...)
      And 5-door-hatchback 4-place sedan for the Marauder. (think slightly brawnier RWD Mazda6 5-door, with premium options)

      Keep the sable, or whatever. The Mountaineer should be a bit more utilitarian near-premium SUV, with a bit more utility cred than just image. Maybe even a bit of Range Rover Sport flavor. Mariner, same, since LR3 is leaving, to make it more than just a re-badged Escape and Tribute.

      I think the Milan is nicer looking than the Fusion, but it is just so redundant, that I am not sure it needs to be kept... I would definitely push the suggestion of a RWD Marauder, as suggested, over the Milan, though.

      I would also give Mercury a premium level small car, like the current Euro-Focus, above the bargain US market Ford Focus. Keep the US ford car cheap, and let Mercury take it up market. If this market is as hot as people say it is, they can differentiate it between Mazdas' 3, and the Volvo C30/5-door.

      So... (premium referring to nice, but not full-on luxury)
      Premium compact (tracer or new 'M' name.)
      Maybe premium FWD midsize (milan)
      Premium RWD Sport Coupe (cougar or new 'M' agressive name)
      Premium RWD Sport Sedan (Marauder works fine)
      Premium FWD full-size (Sable)
      Premium compact SUV (Mariner, further differentiated from Escape)
      Premium mainstream SUV (Mountaineer, sportier and more utilitarian, more than just fancy explorer face)

      That is it. no more really needed, unless they were to bring over the S-max or something for a CUV with sporty credentials, but that is stepping on Mazda's toes.

      Let Lincoln compete with the ES and GS Lexus, and Lucerne. (IS, if they actually build a MKR) and go upscale to get after the DTS/STS common replacement.
      The MKS can try to compete with the Toyota Avalon, and some of the other entry-lux cars that are not performance oriented.

      Let Ford do what Ford does, producing economy cars, mainstream cars (fusion and taurus), the Mustang, maybe a big RWD traditional full-size Charger/300 competitor (Interceptor/427 concepts, could even bring back Galaxie name to replace Crown Vic.) and SUVs/Trucks.

      I can't believe that it is so clear to us here on the ground, what products would seem to do well, but the ivory tower execs can't figure out how to make their company work well...
      • 7 Years Ago
      The only thing keeping Mercury relevant is the luscious Jill Wagner.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_Wagner
      • 7 Years Ago
      It appears Lincoln has added virtually identical Acura TL headlights and Kia Amanti tail lights to this mundane vehicle.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Shot in the arm?
      I bet that MKS will be a big hit. Plus too, Lincoln will be adding lots of updates to it's current lineup in the fall, like the new MKZ, more power for MKX and MKZ, freshenings for Navi including new powertrains. Should be another good year for Lincoln with steady progress.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It will be a hit alright, a hit like the Taurus.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, if the MKS sells as well as the Taurus, Ford will be very happy... The MKS will sell well - at least as much as the MKZ and MKX. That's not Lexus ES numbers, but 35k a year of a profitable vehicle is nothing to snivel at.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Shot in the arm is a good thing. It doesn't mean shot with a gun, but rather getting a shot with a needle to bring you back to life/etc...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Lol, I guess the Dearborn fans didn't like my comment, it went from highly ranked to neutral. Sorry guys, but this car is far from being class-leading, so I'm not expecting much in terms of sales numbers from it - and admit that the Taurus is a complete and utter failure (Taurus X is another story, though).
      • 7 Years Ago
      It seems like Ford is eventually going to be the following companies:
      Ford
      Lincoln
      Mercury
      Mazda
      Volvo

      Therefore, it would make sense for each one to have a well defined image. With that it would be easier to develop cars around that image. I propose the following:

      Ford should be the bare bones models. Simple cars, suvs, trucks, ect for those who don't want to pay a lot. Price is the key focus.

      Lincoln should be their luxury car branch and also the showcase for their new technology. With Caddilac being focused towards sporty luxury (like BMW), Lincoln could find a solid niche being all about overbuilt luxury and neat features. Like Mercedes was years ago.
      Focus is on luxury and innovation.

      Mercury should be the traditional American muscle/sporty car side of things. Kind of like what GM is doing with Pontiac. Interiors should be better than Ford's, but not as good as Lincoln; however they should offer special stripped out models for the most performance. Performance for the price is key here. More specifically, high HP, high torque and straight line performance. Think RWD, V8's, superchargers on smaller engines, ect. The brand for the (traditional American car) enthusiast; for people who would buy a Ford, if it weren't so slow and boring.
      Focus is traditional American performance cars (and maybe trucks/suvs). Power for the price is key.

      Mazda would be kind of like Mercury's import counterpart. Mazda's focus would be more towards handling, lightweight, high revving power plants, sporty exteriors. Basically, what they are now.
      Focus should be fun and well rounded vehicles you can drive everyday.

      Volvo would be Ford's European counterpart to Lincoln. Solid safe luxury cars. This would be more of an all encompassing brand though. Luxury, power, handling, technology.
      Focus here would be BMW/Audi/Mercedes luxury and performance at a lower price point.

      While that's my idea of how each brand should be structured and other people might have different ideas, I don't think it really matters as long as each one follows a well defined path. Even if they decide to drop Mercury, they still need to work on distinguishing each brand better. There is too much overlap of the same exact vehicle between the brands. People shouldn't be looking at Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln and notice the only difference is interior and a little chrome trim.

        • 7 Years Ago
        "It'll take some time before Mercury becomes known for performance, though."

        Maybe, maybe not. A good start would be a Cougar. A car made off the mustang platform with IRS, ~425hp, a nicer interior, slightly different exterior, ect.

        From there they need a Pontiac G8/Dodge Charger competitor, a big RWD V8 sedan. A more modern version of the Mercury Marauder. Maybe use a version of the old Lincoln LS platform (which can share a lot of parts with the Mustang/proposed Cougar) The Charger/300C was a hit, the Pontiac G8 is also probably going to be a hit. Meanwhile, Ford really has nothing in that area.

        Next they could do a performance SUV (like the Trailblazer SS and Jeep SRT-8) based off the Explorer/Mountaineer. I bet even an escape/mariner with the ~400hp twin-turbo V6 Ford developed would be a real hit. Performance would probably be better than the heavier SRT Jeep/Trailblazer SS, and I bet they price it for less too.

        None of those would be that hard to do and would probably be very popular.

        After they get those perfected they could bring out other vehicles. Maybe an F150 based performance truck (like the lightning, but more practical), a Fusion with more power and AWD, a small V6 roadster, kind of like Pontiac has in the Solstice GXP, ect.

        Fact is, they'll never know unless they try something. Right now they have nothing that makes people want to buy a mercury. They just buy it because it's the same as the Ford. Even trying one new special car, to make the Mercury brand stand out from Ford and Lincoln, is better than nothing. In my opinion anyway.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Amen to that.

        It'll take some time before Mercury becomes known for performance, though. When I think of Mercury the first thing that crosses my mind is an old lady driving a Grand Marquis.

        All in all i think Ford should have been putting more attention on Lincoln. That is their Premium brand! how could they put more emphasis on a company that purposely doesn't have its own identity?
      Chris
      • 7 Years Ago
      Look at Mercury Sales!!!!

      Mercury UP 27.6% From a Year ago

      Lincoln Down 7.1% From a Year ago

      http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=27313
      • 7 Years Ago
      The MKS is an attractive looking sedan, at least in pictures. If you want to see a gawd awfull ugly grill, look no further than Audi. That gaping hole up front gives me visions of the painting "The Scream". Personally, I wish Lincoln well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      a new retro Cougar based off the Mustang, but with an IRS and better interior fit & finish (to justify the higher price) would be awesome! given the sales of the Mustang and all of the special editions they keep releasing, it doesn't make sense why they wouldn't try this... unless they really are gonna kill Mercury.
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