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Bloomberg appears to have started a rumor, or broke a story, today that Ford is planning to decommission the Mercury nameplate. Ford CEO Alan Mulally is not confirming the reports, in fact he seems to indicate otherwise in an interview today, "We have no change in our position about Lincoln or Ford or Mercury."
Mercury was the brainchild of Edsel Ford in 1939. It soon thereafter became part of the Edsel-Lincoln-Mercury division. Arguably it's best days were in the late 60's through the 70's, with sales peaking in 1978. Since then the brand has struggled, both for sales and for identity. Many critics have said the brand is too similar to Ford and there isn't enough in terms of features, or models, to distinguish it from Ford or Lincoln.
If Ford does decide to eliminate Mercury, FordMuscle may have "called it". In a 2006 Time Magazine Q&A session
with then Ford CEO Bill Ford Jr., FM editor Chirag Asaravala asked Bill Ford about this very notion:
Have you considered eliminating the Lincoln and Mercury brands and establishing "Ford" vehicles as the definitive marquee and product? I believe in today's automotive world, where most drivers can easily recite the core products offered by BMW, Toyota and Nissan, Ford simply has too many brands and vehicles, making it hard for the consumer to understand the product line. Mercury and Lincoln are often positioned as better optioned or more luxurious products, giving the impression that the vehicles bearing the company's own name are third tier products. I believe Ford should establish focus on a line-up of core vehicles worldwide. As a Ford performance enthusiast, why should I not have the ability to purchase the types of Ford cars in Australia, for example? While it is hard to see Ford going through tough times, I am confident we have yet to see Ford's best days.
BILL FORD JR.: Thanks for your vote of confidence. Our research suggests that Ford, Lincoln and Mercury work together very effectively and offer something a bit different to our customers. As an example, take a look at our recently introduced new line of mid-size sedans: the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr. All are roughly the same size, but they offer different experiences for different tastes. And they are picking up speed in the marketplace.
Mercury has had its moments, its created some iconic pre-50s hot rods, followed by the very distinct Cougars, Montegos and Cylcones of the '60s.
However, since that era, very little has moved us. The 2003-2004 Maurauder was a nice attempt to revive some muscle into otherwise boring sedans. We liked the attempt to bring back the Cougar nameplate, but the two door sports car never gained much traction amongst sports car enthusiasts, and had no similarity with its former rendition.
Ford will be better off emulating a nameplate and marquee duo between Ford and Lincoln, much like Toyota does with Lexus, Honda to Acura and Nissan to Infinity. Consumers have no trouble understand which is the more expensive, feature-rich, version and many are willing to pay for that distinction. Mercury had become a third wheel and it became confusing to most what differences, besides badging, existed between the Milan, Fusion and Zephyr.
In summary, we suspect the story is true, and as the 2011 model year winds down, Mercury will be undetectable much like the constellation disappears from the night sky after November.
First person to reply to this thread with the name of the movie in which the Mercury below appeared wins a FordMuscle logo tee!