Ford Confirms Shutdown of Mercury Brand; Final Production This YearBy Bill Visnic June 2, 2010
Ford Motor Co. confirmed today it will eliminate its Mercury sales division. The decision came after an extensive business and product review Ford conducts every spring and was approved by Ford's board of directors at its regularly scheduled June meeting today.
The decision comes as the Ford brand has strengthened and the automaker instead looks to accelerate the Lincoln brand. Ford will take Mercury personnel and resources and focus them entirely on Lincoln, which will get new products -- seven all new or significantly freshened vehicles in the next four years.
The shutdown of Mercury apparently will happen quickly, as Ford officials say the last Mercury vehicles will be produced in the fourth quarter this year.
Mark Fields, Ford's President of the Americas, noted that Mercury captures only .8 percent of the U.S. market, and its share has been in decline. In contrast, the Ford brand has gained 2.2 percentage points of U.S. market share so far this year.
"The gains that Ford has made just this year amounts to twice Mercury's market share," Fields noted.
Ford has 1,712 dealers with the Mercury franchise. Of those, 925 are Ford-Lincoln-Mercury; 276 are Lincoln-Mercury and 511 are Ford-Mercury. There are no standalone Mercury dealerships.
Ford said will contact all of the 1,712 Mercury dealers over the next 24 to 36 hours. The FLM dealers are likely happy about the decision. The LM dealers likely are not - only some will be able to maintain as standalone Lincoln dealers. Fields acknowledged Ford will compensate those dealers or help them find a Ford franchise to add to Lincoln.
Lincoln, meanwhile, will present select new technologies and will see an expansion of the EcoBoost engine family, as Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of global product development, said the brand also will have exclusive access to a new V-6, giving no further details other than to tell reporters to consider available technologies and displacement.
Lincoln's expansion will include its first-ever C-segment vehicle, which could be similar to the unique but rather hazily-defined C Concept Lincoln unveiled at the 2009 Detroit auto show. The C Concept was based on the Ford Focus platform and fronted an advanced suite of connectivity and communication features.
Fields said Lincoln's focus will be on North America, primarily the U.S., as it expands and accelerates. However, he didn't rule out global expansion in the future. - Michelle Krebs, senior analyst and editor at large
Photos by Ford
1. Mercury Milan Hybrid likely to be one of the segment's shortest-lived models.
2. Lincoln C Concept