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Mulally: Mercury is ‘doing well'

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Mulally: Mercury is ‘doing well'

Richard Truett

Automotive News

October 15, 2007 - 4:14 pm ET

DETROIT -- R.I.P. Mercury? Not yet.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said today that the struggling division will not be killed.

In a meeting with reporters at a factory outside Detroit, here’s what Mulally said when asked if Mercury has a future.

“Absolutely. It’s doing well. We’ve got a great set of products in Mercury. It’s a very nice complement to the Ford products. And so we have a good lineup in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury.”

But Ford officials have been tight-lipped about Mercury’s future products. Except for a hybrid version of the Milan sedan coming next summer, no other vehicles are known to be in the pipeline for Mercury.

Mercury sales have been declining for years. In 2006, Mercury sold 180,848 vehicles, its lowest total since 1960. Through September, sales were off another 11 percent, down from 146,418 to 129,743 for the nine-month period.

Mulally, lumping Mercury’s sales performance in with Lincoln, said: “It’s a great product line, and dealers are very happy with it. Sales are spectacular for Lincoln Mercury. In some areas, Lincoln Mercury has been growing faster than Ford.”

Lincoln is one of the rare bright spots for Ford; the division has posted sales gains every month this year. Lincoln’s sales of 102,449 units through September are running about 11 percent higher than last year.

Mercury has about 1,900 dealers. Most are dualed with Ford or Lincoln.

On other topics:

* Mulally said he expects Jim Farley to have an immediate impact once he settles in as Ford’s group vice president of marketing and communications. Mulally wooed Farley from Toyota, where he was general manager of the Lexus Division.

“Mr. Farley is a proven auto executive," he said. "He’s very experienced in marketing and sales and especially in getting the word out. He’s going to be a great help.”

* Ford is expecting big things from the revamped Focus. Mulally said the new compact will: Define Ford going forward, arrest Ford’s market share decline and help position Ford for profitable growth.

“This is the finest small vehicle Ford has ever produced,” Mulally told a crowd of assembly line workers at the company’s Wayne stamping and assembly plant, where the car is built.

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Mercury is doing well and VeeDub will be number 1 in 2015. :lol:

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Oldsmobile was doing well too in 2000.

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“This is the finest small vehicle Ford has ever produced,” Mulally told a crowd of assembly line workers at the company’s Wayne stamping and assembly plant, where the car is built.

Not counting the ones sold in Europe.... right?

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I like Mercury. It's a Ford with better styling. :)

I look at it this way... Mercury is the only marquie <ha> where I like every single one of the models sold... and in fact prefer the Mercury over the sister product from other divisions. There isn't a division at any other automaker that I can say that about.
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They have so much confidence in Mercury that they already dumped the name and dealer network in Canada... :rolleyes:

Mercury made sense in an era where a Ford was 4 wheels with an engine and if you wanted carpeted kick panels and power windows you had to buy the Mercury. The marketing boys/gals have blurred the lines a long time ago. Other than styling cues (done with sporadic results, IMO), what is the difference between an Mercury or Ford? That is what beseiged GM 5 years ago: what was the difference between a Buick and an Oldsmobile?

Ford is aiming for the single digits market share and unless they can get a couple 'hit' Fords very, very soon, it won't matter what Mercury is doing.

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you gotta put mercury on your list!

Who is the chick in the Merc ad? She has a beautiful voice.

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>>"In 2006, Mercury sold 180,848 vehicles, its lowest total since 1960."<<

1960 was a bad year for Merc; in all my travels in vintage iron circles, I think I've seen about 3 '60 Mercs in person. But in deferrence to Mulally, the '60 was far more uncompetitive and unappealing than the '06s are.

He's seen the individual numbers on Merc; we haven't. If the division is making a profit and the revenue to run it is relatively minimal- there are few reasons to abandon it. Olds was reportedly making a profit in '00, but the cost of running than division was much higher than Merc, I believe, and the decision to discontinue was already made there. Ford claims to have no such intentions.

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Can someone explain how Mercury is doing well? It's the better-trimmed Ford, or the worse-trimmed Lincoln.

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what's wrong with giving lincoln dealers nicer fords to sell? people are avoiding ford, but mercury may avoid the harsh negative stigma. so many people do not want commodity brand cars these days, so mercury is a way for some to have a niche brand but not at a luxury brand price.

around here at least, mariner and milan sell very well, as did the mountaineer before it. lincoln dealers like having some less expensive products in the showroom to bring in the extra volume and brand entry.

one thing they could do is make unqiue interiors i think. right now they dont have the cash to do that though.

Edited by regfootball
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what's wrong with giving lincoln dealers nicer fords to sell? people are avoiding ford, but mercury may avoid the harsh negative stigma. so many people do not want commodity brand cars these days, so mercury is a way for some to have a niche brand but not at a luxury brand price.

around here at least, mariner and milan sell very well, as did the mountaineer before it. lincoln dealers like having some less expensive products in the showroom to bring in the extra volume and brand entry.

one thing they could do is make unqiue interiors i think. right now they dont have the cash to do that though.

Ah Reg, how you love to pick on Chrysler, yet defend Ford's retarded decisions, like having Mercury around in it's current, pathetic state.

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>>"In 2006, Mercury sold 180,848 vehicles, its lowest total since 1960."<<

1960 was a bad year for Merc; in all my travels in vintage iron circles, I think I've seen about 3 '60 Mercs in person. But in deferrence to Mulally, the '60 was far more uncompetitive and unappealing than the '06s are.

He's seen the individual numbers on Merc; we haven't. If the division is making a profit and the revenue to run it is relatively minimal- there are few reasons to abandon it. Olds was reportedly making a profit in '00, but the cost of running than division was much higher than Merc, I believe, and the decision to discontinue was already made there. Ford claims to have no such intentions.

Perhaps Ford learned from GM's mistake?

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Mulally: Mercury is ‘doing well'

“Absolutely. It’s doing well. We’ve got a great set of products in Mercury. It’s a very nice complement to the Ford products. And so we have a good lineup in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury.”

I don't see how this implies that Mercury has a future?? Either Ford is letting Mercury sit as they focus on more important things or they're planning on killing it. I do like how they are focusing on Lincoln though, they can more easily introduce more expensive products into the Lincoln brand than Mercury.

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Ah Reg, how you love to pick on Chrysler, yet defend Ford's retarded decisions, like having Mercury around in it's current, pathetic state.

Chrysler has more to pick on than Mercury. While Mercury may not sell well, it has with one exception superior product class for class than Chrysler.

Mountaineer v. Aspen?

Milan v. Sebring.... if only in styling alone.

Grand Marquis v. 300.... ok Chrysler wins this one as long as it's a 3.5 or better engine.

Sable v. 300.... V6 v. V6 I'll take the Sable any day if just for the superior ergonomics and class leading engine.

Mercury really doesn't have anything wrong with it as there aren't any real stinkers in the lineup. The GM is old, but it makes a profit and sells well to it's target audience.

Chrysler on the other hand has the Aspen, the oddly styled Sebring, the unmoveable Pacifica.... and those are just the duds in the Chrysler lineup. You really don't want to open up Dodge and Jeep to this argument.

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What is this guy smoking. Mercury is a joke. Its a Ford with a different grill and Taillights. The "new" Focus is an even bigger joke. It looks like and old Escort. Cheap inside and out. And Lincoln is not even a luxury brand anymore, It is like a highly trimmed Ford. I wish Ford luck but they are a mess.

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Chrysler has more to pick on than Mercury. While Mercury may not sell well, it has with one exception superior product class for class than Chrysler.

Mountaineer v. Aspen?

Milan v. Sebring.... if only in styling alone.

Grand Marquis v. 300.... ok Chrysler wins this one as long as it's a 3.5 or better engine.

Sable v. 300.... V6 v. V6 I'll take the Sable any day if just for the superior ergonomics and class leading engine.

Mercury really doesn't have anything wrong with it as there aren't any real stinkers in the lineup. The GM is old, but it makes a profit and sells well to it's target audience.

Chrysler on the other hand has the Aspen, the oddly styled Sebring, the unmovable Pacifica.... and those are just the duds in the Chrysler lineup. You really don't want to open up Dodge and Jeep to this argument.

Hmm...so Chrysler's 300 can do what 2 Mercuries have to try to do? It's class leading until you realize you can opt for not one but two bigger engines in the 300. Chrysler has plenty wrong with it, but at least the 300 doesn't look like a Charger, a Sebring doesn't look like an Avenger, and it has a few unique products of its own (Pacifica, Crossfire, PT Cruiser...yes they are long in the tooth but hey, so is the Mercury Crown Vic). Ergonomics I must take issue with because I find the LX cars to have stupid-simple ergonomics...so if they are difficult for people than that's saying something. The only exception being the cruise control, which has been fixed.

What does Mercury have to call it's own? Nothing. Let's not gets tarted on Mercury's duds.

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I respect Mr. Mulally, but I definitely don't agree with him.

Right now, Lincoln is a near luxury brand that is essentially operating in the segment that Mercury should rightfully be active in. Mercury is just a side show bargain brand that exists to catch people who don't want to shell out the dough for a Lincoln product. It does add some business to Ford's bottom line without much investment. It has just become a sad excuse for a distinct brand in Ford's portfolio. It seems like Ford could be combined into dealerships with Lincoln and perform the same function as Mercury without the corporation needing to spend the extra funds to come up with different grilles, headlights, and taillights to apply to the Mercury products (although some of the Mercury products look much better than their Ford counterparts; I would choose a Mariner any day over the Escape).

For Ford to fix Mercury, they would have to fix Lincoln first. This means repositioning Lincoln as a true luxury make once again. This would mean that the entire lineup would need to be replaced and moved upscale. The brand would needs its own dedicated, flexible rear wheel drive components set. This would allow room for Mercury to move up into the near luxury territory and actually claim some of the products that Lincoln sells now (the MKZ, MKX, and upcoming MKS would make great near luxury products for Mercury). Unfortunately, Lincoln (and Ford) doesn't have the time, resources, or money to do this at the moment. Lincoln has also lost its prestige image with the buying public which would be an even harder asset to acquire than finding money to make the above plan work properly.

As far as the Focus; it may be the finest compact car that Ford has ever produced in the U.S., but it is way behind the competition in the market. The Mazda3 and Honda Civic have passed it by years ago. It might do well as a low cost alternative in the market for customers who don't want to settle for Korean products, but is this the reputation Ford really wants to continue to foster in the market? It might also attract some technology fans with its Sync setup, but the competition will probably catch up with or eventually surpass Ford on this aspect. I give them credit for being a technology leader with the new Focus, but will this help buyers overlook the car's flaws.

Ford has a lot to fix and not a lot of time or money to do so. I don't envy the challenge ahead of them. I think they need to fix the bottom (Ford) and top (Lincoln) first, then maybe they can go back and repair the middle (Mercury) in the future. When you're in the state that Ford is in, you can't fix everything at once. I just hope there is a Mercury to fix once they can get around to it.

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I've seen a ton of Milans and Mariners on the road lately...I think one day I saw 5 Milans just driving around Des Moines, more than I saw in Fusions that day.

Ford needs Mercury. If they're getting rid of JLR and maybe even Volvo, Lincoln will be pushed further upmarket leaving a gap between Ford and Lincoln. I know people say "just phase it out and sell more expensive Fords," but Mercury appeals to a different audience and there's no shame in keeping it around even if its just an upper trim until Ford fixes the other two. If Ford were killing Mercury, why would they be advertising the hell out of it? I see Mercury internet ads all over the place.

If Ford is trying to get rid of Jaguar and Land Rover, of course they're going to be investing into Lincoln to beef it up before the sale. Mercury just gets to hang tight for a little while longer until both Lincoln and Ford gain some traction with new product. But the potential is so great to really do something with Mercury that killing it would be a waste.

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I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Mercury is, for all intents and purposes, a CLEAN SLATE.

It has been neglected for SO long that the consumer doesn't connotate ANY image with the division. So *most* of the "Bad domestics" vibes have been forgotten when it comes to this division. THATS why you'll notice the Milan, Mariner and even Sable, to an extent, infiltrating the 'yuppie crowd' and female crowd that typically buys 'premium imports' anywhere from a Honda all the way to Acura or VW. Granted, it's not on a mass scale because Ford doesn't have the resources to really push the division, -BUT- it is happening.

That means Mercury has HUGE potential... It could appeal to a market that Ford could not even think of touching (most of these people think "ick, a Ford" with noses held high) and also a market that I'm confident Lincoln won't be successful in (Most of the same people think: "Lincoln = grandpa car") And these same people can't really afford LR or Jag.

This brings me to my point of NEVER, EVER should a division be phased out. Detroit could REALLY capitalize on the market if they could fully fund their products and get decent marketing to build identities for the divisions. The market is fragmenting, 'fashion' is playing into purchases more than ever. IDENTIFYING with who you are and what car represents that is a HUGE factor (Witness the advent of Scion, the revival of the 'pony cars' the rise of the Prius, etc.)

In this respect, Detroit is WAY ahead of the game! It's the 60's all over again in a sense. If you're Ford, you have 7 different divisions that SHOULD BE TARGETED at 7 different parts of the market. Market fragmentation can play HUGE in advancing the domestic industry, if only they would capitalize on it. Because, in this business, increasingly one size DOES NOT fit all.

It's just like clothing... The same person who shops at Abercrombie might not shop at Banana Republic and then the same person that shops at Banana Republic might not shop at Gap.The same person that shops at Gap might not shop at Rule. Well, it's a good thing the same company owns them all isn't it? So they can capitalize on the market by focusing each company to TAILOR more specifically to a certain kind of consumer. THAT BUILDS LOYALTY and makes the sale.

Mercury could easily be Fords 'Saturn'...

I hope that all made sense... It's an easy concept, but not that easy to explain through text.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Mercury is, for all intents and purposes, a CLEAN SLATE.

It has been neglected for SO long that the consumer doesn't connotate ANY image with the division. So *most* of the "Bad domestics" vibes have been forgotten when it comes to this division. THATS why you'll notice the Milan, Mariner and even Sable, to an extent, infiltrating the 'yuppie crowd' and female crowd that typically buys 'premium imports' anywhere from a Honda all the way to Acura or VW. Granted, it's not on a mass scale because Ford doesn't have the resources to really push the division, -BUT- it is happening.

That means Mercury has HUGE potential... It could appeal to a market that Ford could not even think of touching (most of these people think "ick, a Ford" with noses held high) and also a market that I'm confident Lincoln won't be successful in (Most of the same people think: "Lincoln = grandpa car") And these same people can't really afford LR or Jag.

This brings me to my point of NEVER, EVER should a division be phased out. Detroit could REALLY capitalize on the market if they could fully fund their products and get decent marketing to build identities for the divisions. The market is fragmenting, 'fashion' is playing into purchases more than ever. IDENTIFYING with who you are and what car represents that is a HUGE factor (Witness the advent of Scion, the revival of the 'pony cars' the rise of the Prius, etc.)

In this respect, Detroit is WAY ahead of the game! It's the 60's all over again in a sense. If you're Ford, you have 7 different divisions that SHOULD BE TARGETED at 7 different parts of the market. Market fragmentation can play HUGE in advancing the domestic industry, if only they would capitalize on it. Because, in this business, increasingly one size DOES NOT fit all.

It's just like clothing... The same person who shops at Abercrombie might not shop at Banana Republic and then the same person that shops at Banana Republic might not shop at Gap.The same person that shops at Gap might not shop at Rule. Well, it's a good thing the same company owns them all isn't it? So they can capitalize on the market by focusing each company to TAILOR more specifically to a certain kind of consumer. THAT BUILDS LOYALTY and makes the sale.

Mercury could easily be Fords 'Saturn'...

I hope that all made sense... It's an easy concept, but not that easy to explain through text.

I do see your point about the value of the Mercury brand. I do have one question to ask. How long will the clean slate image last with the upmarket middle class clientele when they realize that except for some minor exterior trim changes, they are actually driving a Ford? When you park a Milan next to a Fusion (or an MKZ for that matter), a Sable next to a Taurus, a Mariner next to an Escape, a Mountaineer next to an Explorer, and a Grand Marquis next to a Crown Victoria, you would have to be a total idiot not to notice that they are the same car. It's like offering the same vanilla ice cream with different toppings instead of totally different flavors; the toppings may be different, but it's still the same old vanilla underneath. I understand the cost development savings of platform sharing, but do the products have to look and feel so gosh darn similar. The last generation Sable was differentiated more from the last generation Taurus than the current generation. For Mercury to grow and thrive in the market, it will need to find a way to differentiate itself more from the Ford brand. The grille, headlamp, taillamp changes will only carry Mercury so far. The complete exterior and interior design needs to be unique and carry a true upscale brand identity for the brand. It would also help if Mercury carried some unique vehicle configurations not offered by Ford. I want to see Mercury stick around, but not in their current faux upscale Ford clone state. It may help Mercury survive for the short term, but it is not a strategy for long term success.

Edited by cire
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Simply in looks. The Milan *looks* more upscale than a Fusion and a Sable *looks* more upscale than a Taurus the same way a Lacrosse looks more upscale than an Impala.

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I do see your point about the value of the Mercury brand. I do have one question to ask. How long will the clean slate image last with the upmarket middle class clientele when they realize that except for some minor exterior trim changes, they are actually driving a Ford? When you park a Milan next to a Fusion (or an MKZ for that matter), a Sable next to a Taurus, a Mariner next to an Escape, a Mountaineer next to an Explorer, and a Grand Marquis next to a Crown Victoria, you would have to be a total idiot not to notice that they are the same car. It's like offering the same vanilla ice cream with different toppings instead of totally different flavors; the toppings made be different, but it's still the same old vanilla underneath. I understand the cost development savings of platform sharing, but do the products have to look and feel so gosh darn similar. The last generation Sable was differentiated more from the last generation Taurus than the current generation. For Mercury to grow and thrive in the market, it will need to find a way to differentiate itself more from the Ford brand. The grille, headlamp, taillamp changes will only carry Mercury so far. The complete exterior and interior design needs to be unique and carry a true upscale brand identity for the brand. It would also help if Mercury carried some unique vehicle configurations not offered by Ford. I want to see Mercury stick around, but not in their current faux upscale Ford clone state. It may help Mercury survive for the short term, but it is not a strategy for long term success.

I don't think badge-engineering will be a long-term future for Mercury, but Ford simply does not have the money or resources right now to make distinctive and unique product for the brand, and they probably won't until 2011 at the earliest. All the effort is going into repairing Ford and Lincoln, and until those two are in good shape, we will keep seeing Mercurys that look like upper-trim Fords.

Patience is the key to Mercury's future...results will not come instantly, maybe not even for five more years. As soon as Ford and Lincoln have fresh product, Mercury will get a little TLC.

I say that Mercury keeps doing what it's doing in terms of marketing demographics, but it needs to become Ford's "Oldsmobile" where it continually pushes the boundaries for technology and engineering. Give it some hybrids, twin-turbo sporty models, and all the gadgets and stuff that will attract Gen X & Y.

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