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Mercury Future Untangled

It’s still alive, but Lincoln is the favored son.

by on Mar.23, 2009

Change the badge and hope it works for Mercury?

Just change the badge and hope it works for the Mercury brand?

Mercury’s surprisingly high rating — fourth after Buick-Jaguar, Lexus and Toyota — in the just-announced J. D. Power vehicle dependability survey gave a needed boost to Ford Motor Company’s traditional “medium price” brand. 

Beginning a couple of years ago, financial analysts and many automotive writers were pronouncing the demise of the Mercury brand. The death sentence was furthered by Vegas investor Kerkorian’s ambassador to Detroit, Jerry York, who told the media that Ford Motor Company should “sell off” Mercury. 

If correctly quoted, York should have known better, because unlike the Wall Street analysts and most auto writers, he had considerable Detroit experience. One wisecrack by a Motor City vet put it this way: “Everything analysts know about the auto industry, they’ve learned from riding in New York City taxicabs.” 

York’s statement made no sense whatsoever because there was nothing to sell but the brand name, which was hardly the most sought-after following years of neglect and mis-direction by the Dearborn automaker. Mercury, once a stand-alone make established by the Ford Company in 1938, was integrated into corporate planning, engineering, purchasing, and powertrain and assembly production 50 years ago. Unlike a Jaguar or Land Rover or even Volvo, there are no Mercury assets for someone to buy outside the name. Mercurys are retailed by Lincoln-Mercury dealers except in rural areas and small towns where they are sold by Ford-Mercury or Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealers.  (more…)

The Race to the Bottom Continues

Offshore makers are demanding -- and getting -- more and more concessions from workers.

by on Mar.11, 2009

Better a pay cut than no pay at all says the union.

Better a cut than no pay at all says the union.

It’s not just the beleaguered members of the United Auto Workers union who are granting concessions to automakers in desperate, perhaps futile, attempts to save their jobs as the Great Recession careens toward depression. Toyota workers in the United Kingdom have just agreed to a 10% cut in wages on the recommendation of their union, as Toyota scaled back production 10%. It was just the latest in a series of economizing steps that Toyota is undertaking globally.

Peter Tsouvallaris, the Unite the Union representative in the United Kingdom said:  “Unite’s priority is to secure jobs and give our members a fighting chance of coming through this economic turmoil with their jobs and livelihoods intact. Any decision to cut wages and working time is never taken lightly, but the agreement we have reached with Toyota will ensure none of our members’ benefits are eroded and that these skilled workers will remain in place and at work ready for when the upturn comes.”

The agreement, effective April 1, is for one year. It applies to about 4500 workers at Toyota’s North Wales (Deeside) engine plant and the car manufacturing plant in Derby. Two hundred temporary positions were previously eliminated. The plants had just completed a two-week shut down.