Thursday

Is Ford Killing Off the Mercury Marque?



Things have been rough at the Mercury brand. Since 2000 the sales of Mercury motor vehicles have plummeted 74%. Rumor has it that Ford has had enough of the failing brand.

Automotive News reports that industry insiders are saying that top executives at Ford are planning the demise of the Mercury label, to be presented to company directors in July. Apparently the plan is to convince the Mercury dealers, who also sell the Lincoln brand, to merge the leftover Lincoln dealerships with the Ford dealerships.

The move by Ford follows in the wake of Ford's selling off the Volvo, Jaguar, Land rover and Aston Martin brands during the last three years.

Curiously enough, The Mercury brand was started by Edsel Ford, the son of company founder Henry Ford. The Edsel, of course, is a brand sold by Ford that died long ago.

Mercury's best days were in 1978 when it still only sold just under 600,000 vehicles, but by last year that number had been shaved to just barely over 92,000. As for market share, a mere 0.9 percent of all vehicles sold in the first quarter of 2010 bore the Mercury brand.

Of all the Ford-made vehicles sold (all Ford's, Lincoln's, and Mercury's combined), in our experience Mercury had far fewer lemons than the Ford or Lincoln brands. That follows the path led by GM when it killed off its most reliable product, the Oldsmobile years ago, and then followed that last year with the death of its second most reliable brand, Pontiac.

It's almost like they learn to build it right and then kill the brand because marketing is all hot to sell something else instead of reliability. Maybe Detroit just needs to kill off some of those marketers who are more interested in selling the sizzle than they are the reliable steak?

So, for now, be careful about buying a Mercury. You could be the last one on the road.