• Nov 9, 2009
In 2006, Ford began to shrink its dealership network in order to more efficiently align its distribution network. Three years later, it appears that the hardest hit are the company's stand-alone Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. While there were 619 Lincoln-Mercury dealerships nationwide just a few years ago, the number had dwindled down to just 357 at the beginning of 2009.

Automotive News recently spoke with Ford CEO Alan Mulally about the future of the Lincoln brand and its stand-alone Lincoln-Mercury stores. While Ford's current strategy is pushing combo Ford-Lincoln-Mercury retailers, Mulally would not confirm that eliminating the stand-alone Lincoln-Mercury dealerships was the desired end result. When pushed on the question, Mulally reiterated that Ford was focusing on building a distribution network which allowed sales volume, product breadth, and profitability... qualities that are apparently better served by the Ford-Lincoln-Mercury store.

Mulally added that although these combo dealerships will be selling the Lincoln MKS on the same lot as the Ford Taurus (both vehicles share platforms and mechanicals), retailers will learn how to deliver the sales experience that fits the vehicle and differentiates the brand. Whether this concept works or whether car salesmen simply take the easy route and sell the less expensive Ford remains to be seen.

Either way, it has to be asked – is peeling away at the automaker's stand-alone LM dealers part of a larger plan to do away with Mercury altogether? Inquiring minds want to know...

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req. | Image: Stephen Brashear/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Like others have said, kill Mercury. They have no significance, no soul, nothing worthwhile to contribute to the automotive landscape. Putting all three brands in the same lot will make this evident to the modern educated consumer.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So you'd have a Fusion with all it's trim levels next to a Milan and all it's trim levels next to an MKZ and all it's trim levels??!! Fricking brilliant.


      /sarcasm
      • 5 Years Ago
      How many badge-engineered brands does one manufacturer need? Ford has one, Mercury, and honestly I think the world could do without it. Lincoln at least has the decency to wear different sheet metal.

      I'm not old enough to remember the old-tyme glory that Mercury used to have so I have no emotional state in them and, really, they should just take it quietly in to that good enough. With a lick of paint Lincoln could happily be Fords' Acura.

      Ford, put Mercury on your list -- to axe.
        • 5 Years Ago
        David Pearson's #21 Purolator Mercury. Now that was what a Mercury should be!!!!!

        David Pearson is second on the all-time Cup Series victory list with 105 and is a three time Winston Cup champ. He won the ‘76 Daytona 500, set a record for super speedway qualifying by winning 11 straight poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In ‘73, Pearson won 11 of the 18 Cup races that he entered. He did all this while rarely entering as many races as his contemporaries. Pearson missed alot of races.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If Ford could figure out how Mercury is supposed to be different from Ford and Lincoln, I guess it could stay.

        Of course incremental sales for Eagle, Plymouth, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile didn't save them, either...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wasn't alive for their "glory eras", either.

        Mercury's "glory" came in three main eras, and none of them lasted long:

        1949-51 - Legendary "bathtub" models, which would eventually be featured in "Rebel Without a Cause" and a host of other classic films.

        1955-59 - When Mercury actually used their own bodies, as Ford prepared to move the division upmarket as Edsel came on-line for '58.

        1967-73 - The Cyclone/Cougar/Marquis/Marauder era. The big Mercs looked like Lincolns at a much lower price, the imported Capri added excitement, and badge-engineering in its most cynical sense only affected one car: the Maverick-based Comet.

        Then came the retrimmed Gran Torino Elite they called the new Cougar XR-7 in '74, the lightly retrimmed Granada they called Monarch and re-grilled Pinto called Bobcat in '75, '77 Cougar-badged sedans and wagons that, for the first time, shared every exterior body panel with their Ford counterpart: the LTD II, and a '78 Zephyr that was different to the Fairmont Futura only by grille insert and taillight lenses. Mercury never really looked back from (very lightly) retrimming Ford models and charging 2% more on the sticker.

        Of course, there were a couple of diversions into quasi-unique models, like the poor-selling Australian-built FWD Capri convertible, the rebadged Nissan Quest we knew as the Mercury Villager, and the flash-in-the-pan Mondeo-based '99 Cougar hatchback coupe. But none of them went anywhere. At all.

        Once the bulk of the dealerships are consolidated, there will be little reason to keep Mercury. Of course, there's little reason to drop the brand, too, since they require minimal investment to grab incremental sales. So they probably make the company more money than they grab it attention.

        If that's the case, then they should probably keep the brand until they get fully back on their feet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have owned Lincolns now for 24 years. My dealer just recently added Ford, as the nearest Ford dealer retired & closed up. They have all 3 on the floor, nut they do not put like cars together. Either a Taurus or a Sable on the floor, but not both. I think that the sales staff is terrified of Ford trucks as they have never had to "Speak-Truck" language. They are more accustomed to selling CPAs, lawyers, doctors and clergy than "truck-guys" and tradesmen.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I guess it is curtains for Mercury.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now it will be much easier for the non auto enthusiast public to see that Lincolns are just Fords in drag.... Lincoln: what a luxury car USED TO be." (my former favorite car.)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mulally says "retailers will learn how to deliver the sales experience that fits the vehicle and differentiates the brand."

        FAIL.

        What respectable upstanding nouveau riche debutante is going to purchase her Louis Vuitton at K-Mart? Or her (ugh) Lincoln MKS at a Ford dealership?

        Lincoln is already a tarnished brand and this action will just drive the knife through its dying corpse. Lincoln only competes with its sister sibling Mercury nowadays. Neither brand is worthy of mention in automotive circles unless you're looking for a good joke to laugh at.

        As I said before, Ford should have kept Jaguar and should hang onto Volvo as well. These two products are far superior to anything that Lincoln-Mercury has to offer.

        Oh BTW, Ford was gradually turning the fortunes of Jaguar around. If they had axed Lincoln-Mercury long ago, then that job would have been complete today.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What do you mean? Didn't you read the article? Mulally says "retailers will learn how to deliver the sales experience that fits the vehicle and differentiates the brand."

        Lord, even reading that sentence a second time makes me heave a little.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think the smart move is to assign salesmen to specific brands. Jag/LR dealerships have dedicated salesmen for both Jaguars and Land Rovers. Ford could do the same have a number of salesmen for Ford and a smaller number for Lincoln. If you are going in looking at a Lincoln MKS you are likely not interested in going down grade to a Taurus.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bad, bad move. IF Ford had the guts to build a Mercury Cougar equivalent of the Mustang with Euro styling and upscale amenities, they could have 40K sales per annum right there. Why not keep the Dealerships moving autos, bring in somebody to revamp Lincoln and get the Cougar back on the Streets? I daresay 150K sales/year would be attainable, easily. The MKS already has potential to be successful.
      Ford should not be so ready to throw away these names. Especially for Lincoln, there is room to grow-Acura has nothing new, Infinitis are a dime a dozen and all look alike, Lexus' are yawners, etc. Why not?
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should just do away with mercury, how many cars do they make? They will put everything under one roof and slowly make mercury disappear.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The only way for Mercury to survive is to become the brand name for Euro Fords like the C-Max and the Kuga. This idea has been floated by Ford. But, it would go against the Mercury image.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Infiniti, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Volvo intenders do NOT shop Lincoln !! Lincoln shoppers are also Cadillac shoppers and "Ford People" looking to move up the line, and present Mercury Grand Marquis owners.
      They are looking for comfort, large trunks, convenience items, decent (for the class) fuel numbers, prestiege and an attentive dealer body to take care of their needs.
      Long time repeat Lincoln owners are not taking to the MKS. MKS may be attracting NEW blood to the L-M showrooms, at the cost of losing the more traditional buyers. Lincoln should NOT dump the Town Car, but should give it a heavy handed facelift, with a redesigned roof-line, front & rear ends and bring back navagation that they dropped in 2005. Cadillac is still selling one heck of alot of DTS cars!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lincoln and Mercury both need to go. They are useless brands that do not justify their existence.

      Mercury is just downright pitiful with the neglect the brand has received.

      And Lincoln sells rebadged Fords for Audi prices......but yet adds nothing to justify the price over the Ford twin. The Ford models offer virtually the same feature set, they offer a lower price, and as hard as it is to believe, the Ford models actually look better than their Lincoln twins (which really isn't saying much as the Ford models are either Camry-bland (Taurus) or just plain hideous (Edge, Fusion, Flex).




        • 5 Years Ago
        "1. MKS sales were up 5 months this year (and even when they were down they were outselling almost all of the other large luxury cars out there)"

        And if you had done ANY research...EVER...you would know that the months that the MKS was up.......were months that it was NOT on sale last year.

        And only a true blind cheerleader would call going from down 50% to down 25% an improvement. The car is hardly a year old and already it's already failing.

        And it's failing for two reasons:

        1. It's not a luxury car yet carries a luxury car price.
        2. Taurus.

        And if you actually look at the numbers...the MKS is only moving about 1300 units a month. It is pitiful.

        -----------

        As for the Taurus...the numbers are empty. Yes it was up 150%. But that was due to pent up demand. It's a flash in the pan. The Taurus is a mediocre car that will suffer from the D3 platform curse in the not-too-distant future. The MKS has stellar numbers out of the gate...and a year later...it was down almost 50%.

        Take off your blinders and take a good, hard look at reality...if you are capable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No numbnuts, the ad where they run 0-60 comparisons between the Audi A6 4.2 V8 AWD and the Taurus SHO, and the SHO goes to 60 about .9 seconds faster than the Audi (both times are slower than their claimed #s, Ford calims 0-60 in 5.2 seconds, Audi claims 0-60 in 5.8, either way, the Audi loses (and it gets worse mileage)).

        http://www.fordvehicles.com/2010taurus/

        It is kind of compelling, because it "defies the laws of physics" as Audi likes to say...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dude...you can't rag on me when I present facts you don't like......and then post things that have no factual basis.

        Let me help you out with the 2009 MKS sales figures:

        January, February, March, April, May, June...MKS SALES WERE UP!

        July...DOWN almost 50%
        August...DOWN 42.3%
        September...DOWN 27.5%
        October...DOWN 22.3%

        Clearly the Taurus is having a huge influence on it's twin from Lincoln.

        Lincoln just can't cut it as a luxury maker. They are a joke. Hyundai builds a nicer "luxury" car than Lincoln does. Nothing about ANY of Lincoln's rebadged Ford appliances establishes them as a luxury automaker. They are a *NEAR* luxury automaker....and a mediocre one at best.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes Matt, we know you don't like facts but bear with me, i'll spoon feed them to you. Audi claims a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds on their website, Ford claims 5.2, they're both slower then claimed, but either way a V8 Audi is slower and less fuel efficent than a V6 Taurus SHO.

        And way to ignore what I said about Lincoln... "The MKS for example builds off that solid paint/ engine/ quietness/ tech from the Taurus and adds luxury features like bridge of wheir leather with Lincoln star embroidered headrests(like the kind of leather used by Rolls Royce and Aston Martin, haha kind of ironic you should bring up Bentley), an even quieter interior, invisible keypad, dual panel moonroof, 16 piece THX-II certified sound system, real wood trim, etc." and you know... a completely different exterior, interior, and ride handling (although I think they use the same headlights and the same interior gauges gauges... gasp!)
        • 5 Years Ago
        So you are telling me that fancy leather, a larger moonroof and a different sound system makes the Lincoln rebadge of the SHOW worth $55K?

        They are the same car.......one is overpriced and the other is outrageously overpriced.

        People know they are the same car...why do you think that the two months that the 2010 Taurus has been on sale, the Lincoln version has been DOWN 27.5% and 22.3%? Because people aren't going to pay a lot MORE money to get the SAME EXACT THING.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They don't...Ford doesn't have the first clue.

        No Audi driver is going to take a first look at a lowly Lincoln....let alone a Ford Taurus. And a $45K Ford Taurus at that.

        And no matter how you try and justify that the Taurus is somehow an Audi competitor....you further marginalize Lincoln. *If* the Taurus competes with Audi (which it doesn't)...what does Lincoln compete with? Bentley?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well thanks Matt, I honestly didn't bother to look back to the beginning of the year, but your research proves two things...
        1. MKS sales were up 5 months this year (and even when they were down they were outselling almost all of the other large luxury cars out there)
        2. When the Taurus came out (in late August) MKS sales improved, they went from down 50% to down 42.3% when the taurus came out in late August, to down 27.5% to down 22.3%... unless that sales increase is due to increased demand for EcoBoost MKSs, but either way it blows one of your arguments out of the water.

        The MKS outsells everything except Cadillac (meaning the fleet queen DTS) and the taurus sales are up like 150% while the other large sedans out there are seing sales losses (and EcoBoost orders are way over their expectations).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hmmm... you completely missed the point of the ads (don't worry, we're not suprised). The Audi comparison you mentioned is comparing the EcoBoost SHO to a similarly sized V8 Audi (that gets worse mileage) to show how it's slower than the V6 SHO. The commercials show how the Taurus has better features than most luxury brands (better paint than lexus, faster and more fuel efficent than Audi, quieter than Acura, more tech than Infiniti, and of course industry exclusive MyKey). The MKS for example builds off that solid paint/ engine/ quietness/ tech and adds luxury features like bridge of wheir leather with Lincoln star embroidered headrests(like the kind of leather used by Rolls Royce and Aston Martin, haha kind of ironic you should bring up Bentley), an even quieter interior, invisible keypad, dual panel moonroof, 16 piece THX-II certified sound system, real wood trim, etc.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wonder how much weight Ford added to the Audi's trunk?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Hello? It went on sale the end of last June, which means that July was its first full month, which means sales would naturally be higher."

        Yeah...and one year later...sales were down 47.1% (to 1200 units...NOT 1600....again...you and facts don't really mix.). The car is a HUGE failure......much like Lincoln.

        "Umm... It's actually around 1,600 a month (facts much), and that happens to be among the best in its class (7 series- 1,209, LS- 804, A6- 669, A8- 208, RL- 155, Infiniti M- 536) the only car that outsold the MKS was the DTS which sold 1,896."

        You actually think Lincoln's cheap Taurus rebadge competes with the A8 and 7-Series? You probably think it competes with the S-Class as well. God you are delusional.

        "Umm... double standard? I talk about how the Camaro has pent up demand from the 3 years people have been waiting for it (plus the fact that that Chevy hasn't had a pony car since the 90s) but if it's the Taurus then sales success is simply "pent up demand" yeah... people really drool over full sized sedans as they do over pony cars (and F.Y.I. before you even go there Ford launched the Taurus microsite to the public early this year, so there was only about 4 months of “pent up demand")."

        That a boy...compare the Taurus to a pony car. That a logical argument to get your point across. Remember, the Taurus is the car that made Big Al cry like a baby....and he said that LONG before the Taurus was released.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Lincoln and Luxury do not go together.

        There are MINIMAL differences between the Fusion and the Lincoln rebadge...there are MINIMAL differences between the Taurus and the Lincoln rebadge... and there are MINIMAL differences between the Flex and the Lincoln rebadge.

        Nothing Lincoln sells is true luxury and that theory is proven true by all of the sales the Taurus has taken way from the Lincoln version. People can see that their money is NOT well spent on the MKS. And ever since the Taurus was released, EVERYBODY has been asking the question, "Now what's the point of the MKS?"...but of course, you are such a blind/biased cheerleader...you will justify anything Ford does no matter how irrational it really is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well Lexus charges $70k for a car of similar specs (besides the fact that it's slower, heavier, and gets worse mileage, but hey it has a "true" V8), but I guess you would say that the $15k over an MKS is worth it because the Lexus LS has a power heated steering column, water repellent windows, and rain sensing wipers... true luxury at it's finest. If your view on luxury cars is "so it has nicer leather and a fancy sound system" then you must be very happy with your Aveo. The rest of us prefer our luxury cars to be... luxurious. Nicer leather, nicer speakers... that's the point. Lincoln (and Ford in general) is at a critical point in their restructuring. Two years ago Lincoln made 4 models (including the ancient Town Car... so that doesn't really count) and now they're growing to be a full-line luxury brand. The MKS isn't exactly the best luxury car out there, but it is a hell of a car considering where it's coming from. Now that Ford is close to having their entire lineup redesigned or new, they will have more time/resources for Lincoln (so they can stop focusing only on performance and features and spend some time on design... like the MKT... yeah). I don't know what else you could possibly come up with but I anticipate your reply.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Okay... MKS sales have been down about 20% every month this year, not just since the Taurus came out, and even with that sales decrease the MKS is in the upper bracket for sales (it consistently outsells the LS, RL, Infiniti M, Audi A6 and/or A8, 7 series, and S Class) the only car that outsells is the rental queen DTS, so try some facts next time.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Umm are you retarded?
        "Yeah...and one year later...sales were down 47.1% (to 1200 units...NOT 1600....again...you and facts don't really mix.)."
        OCTOBER 2009 LINCOLN MKS 1,609... FACT

        "You actually think Lincoln's cheap Taurus rebadge competes with the A8 and 7-Series? You probably think it competes with the S-Class as well. God you are delusional."
        I didn't say that, I'm just comparing it to other full-sized luxury car sales numbers... way to make stuff up (I think it's safe to say YOU are the delusional one).

        "That a boy...compare the Taurus to a pony car. That a logical argument to get your point across. Remember, the Taurus is the car that made Big Al cry like a baby....and he said that LONG before the Taurus was released."
        Umm... I didn't compare the car, I compared the concept of you being socially and mentally inept and unable to realize how you have double standards that really make it hard to take anything you say seriously. And what in the HELL are you talking about Mulally crying? HOW does that have ANYTHING to do with this?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh...you mean the ad where the overpriced Taurus passed the Audi...thats going about 45 MPH.

        Yeah...very compelling.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Except, in their SHO commercial, they're targeting the SHO against the A6...

        It's like Ford doesn't know who their competitors are...
      • 5 Years Ago
      What is the point of having Ford and Mercury in the same showroom?
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