Ford May Finally Close Mercury Brand
Just days after General Motors produced the final HUMMER H3 spelling Hummer Brand with Final HUMMER H3 the end of the HUMMER brand, Ford Motor Company looks like it might finally be ready to admit defeat for its beleaguered Mercury division. Founded in 1939 by Edsel Ford, there have been many rumors of Mercury's closing in recent years which have only intensified following a dismal 2009 sales year of just 92,299 units, and according to a Bloomberg report today, Ford will finally be pulling the plug on the 71-year-old brand. The report indicated that William Ford, Ford's current Chief Executive Chairman and the great-grandson of Henry Ford, is behind the closing of Mercury, but there has been no official word from Ford concerning the brand's fate with nothing likely to be decided at least until July.
Since Alan Mulally took over as President and CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2006, the Lincoln and Ford brands have both seen a remarkable turnaround with new exciting models such as the Lincoln MKS, Ford Flex and the 2010 Ford Taurus, but Mercury's annual sales have plummeted a staggering 74 percent drop in sales since 2000. Mercury has not had a unique vehicle in its lineup since the Mercury Cougar was cancelled in 2002, and even plans for a new small car based on the 2012 Ford Focus seemed a bit too far in the future to have any real impact. With a new Ford Explorer coming later this year and the St. Thomas Assembly Plant closing in September 2011, this likely spells the end for the Mercury Mountaineer and the Mercury Grand Marquis. Even the aging Mercury Mariner crossover fails to stand apart from the Ford Escape, both of which have been on the market since 2005 with a replacement not expected until at least 2012.
Closing Mercury could give Ford an opportunity to continue the success of Lincoln without having to compete with the less expensive Mercury variants of Ford's platforms. While Lincoln has been able to share platforms of Ford models while offering unique and noticeable styling changes, most of the Mercury models shared similar exterior and interior styling with their Ford-badged counterparts. A decision on the future of Mercury could be made as soon as July with a key determining factor being the fate of existing dealerships. Some Lincoln and Mercury dealerships continue to be standalone from the Ford brand which would mean that these Lincoln dealers would likely be forced to join a Ford franchise. Some areas already have theÂ Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands under one roof which could make the process of closing Mercury even easier.
If eliminated, Mercury would join the long list of domestic car brands that have perished over the past 12 years. Following its 'merger' with Daimler AG, Chrysler shut down its Plymouth and Eagle brands, while General Motors killed off Pontiac, HUMMER and Saturn following its bankruptcy plus Oldsmobile earlier in the decade.
Following the sale of Volvo this year to Chinese automaker, Geely, Ford has finalized the end of its Premier Automotive Group which was founded in 1999 and formerly included Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Lincoln.