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Mercury Mountaineer

Mercury Milan Hybrid

Jill Wagner, spokesmodel for Mercury  (Source: The Blemish)
Another American car brand bites the dust

When General Motors and Chrysler were floundering and in desperate need of a lifeline from the American government, Ford was moving forward as a still independent company. Ford Motor Company has made some good decisions over the past few years including offloading its premium brands like Volvo, Land Rover, and Aston Martin.

Ford Motor Company is continuing to trim the fat and transform itself into a lean, mean fighting machine by offloading its long underperforming Mercury division. The Mercury division has long gotten the leftover table scraps from the mainstream Ford brand. The Milan, Mariner, Mountaineer, and Grand Marquis are all thinly veiled rebadges of the Ford Fusion, Escape, Explorer, and Crown Victoria respectively.

“Mercury originally was created as a premium offering to Ford and was an important source of incremental sales,” said Ford in a press release.  “However, the continued strength of the Ford brand – particularly during the past three years – has accelerated the migration from Mercury to Ford for many customers.”

Mercury vehicle sales totaled just 92,299 for all of 2009 compared to 1,445,742 for the Ford brand. Even Lincoln, which caters to a more affluent audience than either Ford or Mercury, managed to move nearly as many vehicles as Mercury with 82,847 vehicles sold.

Ford Motor Company will wind down Mercury production in the coming months and expects to cease all production in the fourth quarter of 2010.

With the laggard Mercury brand now out of the way, Ford Motor Company will now “fully devote its financial, product development, production and marketing, sales and service” to the Ford and Lincoln brands.

For the Lincoln brand, that means the addition of seven all-new or significantly revised models over the next four years. These new vehicles will include a surprising entry from Lincoln, a C-segment vehicle (think Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla).

Lincoln will also likely benefit from hybrid powertrains that Mercury shared with Ford – Mercury currently sells the Milan Hybrid sedan and Mariner Hybrid “cute-ute”. Hybrid powertrains would make a perfect fit for the Fusion-based Lincoln MKZ and the Taurus-based MKS.

Ford Motor Company is also looking to further distance Lincoln from Ford with an exclusive V6 for the brand, more efficient transmissions, adaptive computer-controlled suspensions, and active noise control.

"We have made tremendous progress on profitably growing the Ford brand during the past few years.  Now, it is time to do the same for Lincoln," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas.  "The new Lincoln vehicles will transform luxury for North American premium customers through an unexpected blend of responsive driving enjoyment and warm, inviting comfort. We will also offer our customers a world-class retail experience through a vibrant retail network."

As for Ford, we've already talked about the new vehicles in its pipeline including the new 2011 Mustang/Mustang GT, 2011 Fiesta, and 2012 Focus, along with Ford's turbocharged EcoBoost engines.

With Mercury out of the way, Ford and Lincoln products can only get better from here on out.



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By Brandon Hill (blog) on 6/3/2010 9:50:12 AM , Rating: 1
FAIL!

HS 250h: sedan, 2.4-liter gasoline engine
Prius: hatchback, 1.8-liter gasoline engine

Not to mention that they are based on totally different platforms (the HS 250h uses the Avensis platform), both look nothing alike, have a different rear suspension layout (Prius has a torsion beam rear axle, HS 250h has a double wishbone arrangement), different interiors, HS 250h has more features, etc. etc.

Yeah, nice try though...


By Integral9 on 6/3/2010 12:35:01 PM , Rating: 3
Oh Brandon, you're so dramatic. I never looked at the car except on the highway and it is so similar I though it was a new Prius the first time I saw it. So, ok it's an upgraded Prius w/ a bigger engine and a more luxurious suspension. Both are upgrades you should expect when moving into a luxury brand. But it's still the same car, just fugglier... I actually didn't think it was possible... who knew?

The fact is, car makers aren't going to make the same mistakes again, so you are seeing the modern day equivalent of rebadging. It's 70% toyota, 30% lexus instead of the 90-10 splits that were seen in the 70s, 80s, and 90s from the american car companies.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 6/3/2010 1:47:00 PM , Rating: 2
But they aren't even based on the same platform, so it's not even close being badge engineering.

It'd be like saying that an Audi A4 is a badge engineered VW Jetta, which is far, far from the truth.


By Integral9 on 6/3/2010 2:41:56 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it's not that far, you're just talking about the wrong VW. The A4 and the Passat were based on the same platform. The only real difference used be that Audi offered AWD. In my experience, unless the part is specific to the Audi A4, it's completely interchangeable with the Passat (I drive a 97 A4).

I might be wrong, but I think the A4 came first, so you could say the Passat was a badge engineered A4. But I might be slightly biased towards Audi given my ownership of one.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 6/3/2010 3:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
What you're describing is platform sharing, not badge engineering.

The Passat and A4 shared platforms, but had totally unique bodywork and interiors. That's platform sharing.

The Beetle and original Audi TT shared a platform with the MKIV Jetta/Golf, but that doesn't make them badge engineered vehicles -- it's platform sharing.

Now if we're talking Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra or Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon -- that's badge engineering.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 6/3/2010 1:53:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'll add, this is badge engineering in detail:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badge_engineering

None of the Lexus models you mentioned fits these profiles.


By Integral9 on 6/3/2010 2:48:34 PM , Rating: 3
Was this directed to me? I only mentioned one Lexus model and accepted your retort. However, I'd like to point out a quote from that page.

quote:
Probably the most renowned example is Audi, a brand within the Volkswagen Group. While very few cars share the same bodywork, nearly all Audis use components from their more pedestrian counterparts, sold as Volkswagen Group's mass market brands...

<snip>
quote:
Japanese carmakers have followed this practice of rebadging as well... For example, the Lexus ES is essentially an upgraded and rebadged Toyota Camry, the Lexus LX is an upgraded rebadge of the Toyota Land Cruiser, and the Acura TL and Acura TSX are rebadges of the USDM and JDM Honda Accords.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 6/3/2010 3:31:55 PM , Rating: 2
I directed at the wrong person, but I agree with the LX assessment (which I noted above). But I'll have to disagree on the Camry/ES assessment.


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