California Autos Examiner

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ford: Yeah, We Were Going To Kill Mercury--But Now We're Not

Ford shuffles Mercury brand

The handwriting was on the wall: Mercury was a dead brand driving. No exclusive products and a dwindling lineup could only mean one the--curtains. Ford, which never publicly admitted it was going to kill the brand, has since revised its thinking and given Mercury another chance as a purveyor of smaller entry-level cars and crossovers. "Mercury and Lincoln will complement each other," Derrick Kuzak, Ford's global product chief, told The Detroit News Thursday. "Lincoln will start with midsized sedans and move up from there."

That means that more than likely you can kiss the Sable goodbye. What will remain in Mercury's portfolio is the Mariner crossover, Milan mid-sized sedan and a new as yet unnamed compact. The compact will be based off of the Focus platform, as so many future Fords will be.

Since Mercury skews towards a female demographic, I'd stack it's lineup with Euro-cars like Ka, Focus Coupe-Cabriolet, etc. Give the Ford brand the heavy lifting with the Focus sedan and hatch and give Mercury the niche models that are elegant and attractive to female buyers. You can have a wider demographic models in there as well such as the Milan, but above all I'd give Mercury variants that Ford doesn't have and that can be priced higher: you want the Fiesta sedan and hatch go to Ford, you want the convertible then see Mercury.

If you are going to save a brand, then I think this is the way to do it. Mercury loyalists are out there and will come back to buy just like salmon "if" you give them a reason to do so. Just give me my Jill Wagner commercials back.

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