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