Two readers have commented on my Mercury post, so here are some ideas to save the brand.
Number one, while it's impossible to totaly ween the brand of rebadged Ford cars and trucks overnight, it's important that Mercury has a more defined identity. So I would market Mercury against the European and Asian near luxury brands, such as Lexus, Infinity, Acura, Audi , Saab and Volvo, not to mention Cadilac, Buick and Chrysler. Mercury in print and television ads has seemd to target women and the 20-30 crowd. That's good, you can't keep marketing Grand Marquis to retirees as by nature, they are going away and the next generation are going for foreign vehicles. Mercury can't sit on it's ass and be a slightly nicer Ford.
Start off by introducing a sort of Halo car, take the Ford Focus Vignale hardtop convertible from Europe, put the turbo I5 front Volvo with 218 hp, give it the all wheel drive system and price it in the mid $30k range. Give the brand a better identifying feature than the waterfall grill, that's just plain ugly and too close to the new three bar grill coming for all the new Ford models, such as the Fusion and 500. Now, get rid of the Milan and bring over the European Mondeo, offer the all wheel drive as an option and bring the estate (station wagon) as well as the Diesel.
You would still have the Mariner and the Montego and for God's sake kill the Mountaineer, bring the new Edge in as a Mercury, not a Ford. Ford is swimming in SUVs and crossovers. Ford has the Expedition, Explorer, Escape, FreeStyle, is going to get the Edge (as the FreeStyle) and possibly the Fairlane and EcoSport (Bronco 3 ? ) Does Ford need another? I know the old FreeStyle is going to be the Meta One, call it something else and let it, the Mariner and the Edge be Mercury's SUVs. Here's another idea, the Monterey is going bye bye as is the FreeStar minivan, why not bring the European Ford Galaxy mini van here as a Mercury?
Many blogs have asked if the Mercury Messenger will be a new Cougar, I ask if it should be. The styling is hack, and Mercury doesn't need a sporty coupe like the Mustang. Mercury doesn't need a Mustang clone or the base economy car (Focus or Fiesta) they need decent interesting sedans with some style, performance and quality. The 2 SUVs I've pointed to would also be more than enough to satisfy their needs. Mercury does not need to have everything Ford sells.
And Lincoln needs a real competitor for the Likes of Cadilac, BMW and Mercedes. How about bringing the Australian Ford Falcon/Fairmont over here? I've posted photos before. Ford needs to keep a rearwheel drive chassis, not just for the fleet sales, which they would be foolish to surrender, but for the performance oriented drivers. If not the Aussie Falcon, put some real money into the Panther replacement and give us something with IRS and some respectable power. Ford seems to be giving up. You don't win back market share, by saying we're not going to fight that battle, we're going to play it safe with SUVs and trucks.
If Ford and their US brands want to stay relevant, they need to makes some major improvements. Mercury is a waste of space as it exists today. Lincoln is questionable at best. Ford has the tools in the global toolbox, use them. Learn the lesson that GM won't, brand diversity and identity are important. Who wants to buy a Mercury today and why?