Ford announced it will eliminate the 72-year-old Mercury brand and shift its efforts towards its Ford and Lincoln models. Mercury is the latest car produced by the Detroit Three to get the axe, a trend in the auto industry for vehicles which haven’t been selling well. The move is the automaker’s latest in its brand-shedding project: It’s already sold off Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.
Mercury sales had been slow overall; Ford sold fewer than 93,000 of them last year. Auto sales generally have been perking up; car sales were up 19 percent in May, performing better than in April and better than May of last year. Carmakers have been showing gains across the board, including companies like Toyota, which had been struggling with its recall crisis, and Chrysler, which has been struggling in general.
Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, a professor of auto economics at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany, he says it would have been difficult for Ford to shut down all of its losing brands at the same time. “It was very urgent for Ford to cut off the lossmakers first, the big lossmakers, then they can go on to optimize the other things in the company.” Ford didn’t let go of the losing Mercury brand right away as it wasn’t costing the company that much, but finally pulled the plug as the brand didn’t add much to the company either.
The Mercury was conceived in the 1930s as a mid-range vehicle that fell in between a regular Ford and a high-end Lincoln. At its peak, the brand touted some interesting models and notable drivers — including James Dean, who drove a Mercury in “Rebel Without a Cause”.
Mercury dealers are getting information today about the winding-down schedule. Ford says it will offer large incentives to clear the car off of lots this summer.