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Ford Hopes to Keep Its Mercury Brand Alive by Deriving More New Models <BR>Wed Mar 6,12:46 AM ET <P>GENEVA -- Ford Motor (NYSE: F - news) Co . is refusing to let its aging Mercury brand go the way of extinction that General Motors Corp. did with its Oldsmobile line and DaimlerChrysler AG with the Plymouth brand, Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reported.<P> <BR>Instead, Ford (F) has devised a plan to keep Mercury alive by deriving more new models for the lineup from vehicles originally designed for the Ford brand. The No. 2 auto maker also plans to stagger product launches between its Ford and Mercury brands, in a move aimed at extending the life cycle and profit potential of its vehicle designs.<P>"The Mercury will have a bright future because it is built with a limited investment on Ford product," Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of Ford's Premier Automotive Group of luxury brands, said in an interview at the Geneva Motor Show here. Mr. Reitzle declined to say which vehicles would share which platforms. " We [will] now put more Mercury models in place than today. We hope that we can grow the volume."<P>Ford, Dearborn, Mich. , has spent several months looking at the Mercury brand, which some critics believe should be killed given its slowing sales and image as a brand for older buyers. Mercury has been squeezed as more prestigious luxury brands, including Ford's own Jaguar and Volvo, offer models priced to attract upper-middle-income buyers who in past decades might have purchased a Mercury as a step up from the Ford brand.<P>But Ford Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. earlier this year demanded that company managers come up with a plan to save Mercury by the end of this month. Mercury's buyers may be older, and its mainstay products, such as the rear-drive Grand Marquis sedan, may be unfashionable with baby boomers. But the brand is profitable and the Mercury sales volume is critical to the health of the auto maker's Lincoln -Mercury dealerships.<P>Ford and Mercury brand products have long been developed from the same basic chassis, or platform. Mercury's Mountaineer sport utility vehicle, for instance, has the same underpinnings as a Ford Explorer. But both of those vehicles were launched at the same time.<BR>
 

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So how do you save Mercury? I vote they bring over the Mondeo and Mondeo wagons and sell them as Mercurys. Also, sell European versions of Focuses, basically ST170 and Ghia models with Mercury badges.<P>Merc should get a version of the Escape also.
 

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I can't wait to see how this turns out for the public...<BR> <IMG SRC="http://www.motortrend.com/june01/marauder/marauder.jpg"> <P>I also heard Chevy was thinking of bringing back some V8 Impala SS... <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/biggrin.gif"><P>
 

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For how may decades do we have to look at that body?<P>I agree w/George; I'd like them to bring over the Mondeo cars (wagon and sedan) from the Continent. They'd be much better than anything else I can think of with a Mercury label in recent years.<P>
 

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Bringing over the Mondeo would be a good start, but how would they price it this time? <P>Ford had serious problems moving the Contour in the $15-21k range, even though it was an very good car(IMO). Mercury would probably try to sell it in the $18-24k range. There is some stiff competition in that range. Not to mention that Jaguar might not be too happy seeing the Mondeo come back here.
 

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Really, what the heck is Ford thinking? The Mondeo ST220 in sedan and wagon form are awesome cars. Ford needs to bring over the Mondeo ST220 and the Focus ST170.<P>This car has the 220hp Duratec V6 and and I think it would make a great competitor to the likes of the Passat V6, Camry V6, Accord V6, and new Altima V6. This is a market 'sweet-spot' and this what Mercury needs IMHO.<P>They need to rebadge the Focus ST170 as a Mercury, sell the Mondeo ST220 as a Mercury, give us the Marauder quickly, and bring us a all-new version of the Couger. Sort of something similar to what was done with the new Thunderbird, a classic that goes back to the 'ole' days.<P> <IMG SRC="http://home.att.net/~biker16/WKA2001090272012_pv.jpg"> <P> <IMG SRC="http://home.att.net/~biker16/WKA2001090271963_pv.jpg"> <P> <IMG SRC="http://home.att.net/~biker16/_PV_022368.jpg"> <P>-Drew<p>[This message has been edited by InDy (edited 03-12-2002).]
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Carl Sims:<BR><B>Bringing over the Mondeo would be a good start, but how would they price it this time? <P>Ford had serious problems moving the Contour in the $15-21k range, even though it was an very good car(IMO). Mercury would probably try to sell it in the $18-24k range. There is some stiff competition in that range. Not to mention that Jaguar might not be too happy seeing the Mondeo come back here.</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Uh, if you recall, the Mercury version of the Contour was called the "Mystique" and was sold at the same time. So I don't think that formula is going to work.<P>I had a $735 credit from my wife's Citibank Ford card that I could have used to buy a Ford, Merc, Lincoln, or Jag. (wasn't valid on the Volvo because Ford bought them after the Citibank program was started.) Ford didn't have anything in their stable that gave me the safety and performance I wanted, hence I wound up with the S60 T5. But the Lincoln LS was too heavy for the engine size they offered, the performance of the <BR>Taurus/sable was a joke, the Mustang was too small (I got that headroom problem, remember.) plus it didn't have the IRS, the T-bird was an overpriced, underpowered blob that evoked the wrong image (for me, at least--it's an retiree's car for putting around town & the ragtop reduces chass torsional stiffness so its handling suffers.) Really, Ford didn't have anything of interest.<P>But what's really sad to see is that the PAG is orphaning Volvo. It's recovering from the "safety" stigma of the box that's plagued the brand for 40 years. Volvo a luxury model? Sure it costs as much, but it's not <I>perceived</I> in the public's eye as a 'lux' model. Now Jag is a luxury model, for sure, but I think Volvo has made a wrong turn trying to vie with Jag as a 'luxury' model. The 40 years of the 'box' stigma is holding Volvo back.<P>I think what Volvo needs to do is swing to emphasize the sport/fun side of the PAG and release more 'R' models and AWD T5's in non-limited runs so the word gets out about the fun aspects of these cars. <I>That's</I> the way to boost sales. If Volvo keeps the lid on R production runs then who will know about Volvo? Personally I think it's asinine to limit the R models to just a few. Crank 'em out by the thousands, get the cost down to compete with the Mustang and the dealers will get swamped with folks that want to upgrade their Mustangs.<P>Of course, I really shouldn't care because I won't/can't buy another one because of the sunroof decision. But it's looking like my choices are being narrowed to the other Europeans' cars because the Japanese just don't offer the same safety features and the domestics have <I>no clue </I> when it comes to combining safety & performance in a sedan.
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by T5 Dave:<BR><B> Uh, if you recall, the Mercury version of the Contour was called the "Mystique" and was sold at the same time. So I don't think that formula is going to work.<P>I had a $735 credit from my wife's Citibank Ford card that I could have used to buy a Ford, Merc, Lincoln, or Jag. (wasn't valid on the Volvo because Ford bought them after the Citibank program was started.) Ford didn't have anything in their stable that gave me the safety and performance I wanted, hence I wound up with the S60 T5. But the Lincoln LS was too heavy for the engine size they offered, the performance of the <BR>Taurus/sable was a joke, the Mustang was too small (I got that headroom problem, remember.) plus it didn't have the IRS, the T-bird was an overpriced, underpowered blob that evoked the wrong image (for me, at least--it's an retiree's car for putting around town & the ragtop reduces chass torsional stiffness so its handling suffers.) Really, Ford didn't have anything of interest.<P>But what's really sad to see is that the PAG is orphaning Volvo. It's recovering from the "safety" stigma of the box that's plagued the brand for 40 years. Volvo a luxury model? Sure it costs as much, but it's not <I>perceived</I> in the public's eye as a 'lux' model. Now Jag is a luxury model, for sure, but I think Volvo has made a wrong turn trying to vie with Jag as a 'luxury' model. The 40 years of the 'box' stigma is holding Volvo back.<P>I think what Volvo needs to do is swing to emphasize the sport/fun side of the PAG and release more 'R' models and AWD T5's in non-limited runs so the word gets out about the fun aspects of these cars. <I>That's</I> the way to boost sales. If Volvo keeps the lid on R production runs then who will know about Volvo? Personally I think it's asinine to limit the R models to just a few. Crank 'em out by the thousands, get the cost down to compete with the Mustang and the dealers will get swamped with folks that want to upgrade their Mustangs.<P>Of course, I really shouldn't care because I won't/can't buy another one because of the sunroof decision. But it's looking like my choices are being narrowed to the other Europeans' cars because the Japanese just don't offer the same safety features and the domestics have <I>no clue </I> when it comes to combining safety & performance in a sedan.</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>The current version of the Mondeo is by far a better car than the previous Mystique, which I was aware of, thank you...<P>If Mercury were allowed to sell the vehicle pictured above with the 220hp V6, I think that they would find buyers assuming they could price it properly. I just don't think that Jaguar would go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
On the Mondeo....<P> <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/resources/gallery/auto_shows/iaa_01/ford/images/large/28.jpg"> <P>The new car IS much better than the older car. It's also more in line with the Passat and Altima, which should be its target. Selling it with a 6 cyl and maybe a Zetec 4cyl would bring buyers to Mercury. Look what the new Altima has done for Nissan, and the Passat for VW prior to that...<P>On the Focus...<P> <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/resources/gallery/auto_shows/iaa_01/ford/images/large/02.jpg"> <P>I like where Dodge/Plymouth were going with the Neon. They sold it under two brands with the same name. They made no bones about it that it was the same car, though they didn't do ANY brand differentiation.<P>The Focus has some really cool European models like the ST170 and Ghia. Making cars that use SVT componentry on sedan and wagon focuses for Merc as well as with the European styling and suspension tuning would help to differentiate it. Further, offering stuff like Recaros as seen on the ST170 would give it more of an upscale premium feel much like where Merc is supposedly headed vs. Ford cousins.<P> <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/resources/gallery/auto_shows/iaa_01/ford/images/large/21.jpg"> <P>On Volvo....<P>I don't think Volvo is giving up on teh Safety thing at all. I think it is positioned just underneath but overlapping Jag. They want to emphasize the safety while adding to the sport. Plus, they have some smaller and more affordable cars with an emphasis on safety in the pipeline. Everything points to Volvo being in charge of safety engineering for new Focus-based versions including their own, but also including the Mazda 3 and the next Focus.
 

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oh..... <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/frown.gif"> to the days of cars being different and having their own personalities.... <P>
 

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Well, that goes both ways. When there were a ton of car companies, you had less selection in model ranges, engine offerings etc. and quality wasn't as good.<P>VW is a great example of how several brands now benefit from single developement and Volkswagen makes some of the most luxurious and option-laden small cars in the world.<P>I'm positive that Ford is watching the European brands like VW (J. Mays an ex Audi designer that designed Concept 1 and the Audi Avus) and Wolfgang Reitzle (ex #2 at BMW. Having that talent is a GREAT strategy for Ford.<P>On building something like a Focus here, they can still build it differently. Different features such as European fenders with sidemarkers, blacked out headlights etc, plus different packages like the above mentioned ST170 and Ghia models as opposed to the ZX and SVT models would go a long way. Also, so would higher spec content, optional Recaros, stiffer standard suspension, Recaros as an option and other things that would offer more of a European flair.<P>The Mondeo is just a flat out great car that needs to be sold here, but not as a Taurus. The Taurus is the main reason it hasn't been as they are too close, but Merc could pull it off as Sable sales are lagging.
 
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