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Bye-Bye Mercury

It’s off to the rust heap for Ford’s former mid-range brand.

by on Jan.03, 2011

Mercury officially ceases to exist.

While most of us were waving goodbye to 2010, over the weekend, Ford Motor Co. was raising a toast and saying farewell to the Mercury division.

The long-struggling brand has been slowing phasing itself out following the decision to take Mercury off life support, last year.  But as of January 1, Ford formally closed the books on the brand.  When dealers opened up this morning they had to have removed all signs, logos and sales pitches for the once formidable Mercury.

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Borrowing the name from Roman mythology – Mercury being the messenger of the gods – the brand was founded in 1939 by Edsel Ford, son of company founder Henry Ford.  The division was designed to fill a spot between mainstream Ford, often called the “Blue Oval” brand, and upscale Lincoln.

In its very first year, Mercury sold 65,800 vehicles, in line with what it has been moving in recent years.  But even in those early days, Mercury struggled to establish a clear identity.  At times, it was pitched as a performance brand.  Alternatively, it was marketed as a more luxurious marque.  But most of the time, Mercury simply marketed the same products as the Ford division, albeit with a different badge.

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Lincoln Offering Free Maintenance

Push to rebuild brand before Mercury is abandoned.

by on Jun.18, 2010

Lincoln will offer free maintenance to help boost demand for its expanding line-up.

Struggling to kick-start sales before its sibling Mercury division permanently closes its doors, Lincoln will offer a free maintenance incentive program that extends til the end of the summer.

The program, which covers such routine repairs as brake linings and tire rotations, will cover new Lincoln products for up to 3 years or 45,000 miles.  The campaign runs until September 7, though considering the success other makers, like BMW, have had with similar programs, Lincoln could very well decide to extend the offer beyond the summer.

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“Our commitment is to further grow the Lincoln brand and offer our luxury customers the premium experience they deserve and expect,” said Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service for Lincoln’s parent, Ford Motor Co. “Our free scheduled maintenance offer marks only the first step in our plans to further upgrade the Lincoln experience.”

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Who’ll Follow Mercury Onto the Automotive Rust Heap?

There are plenty of other troubled brands.

by on Jun.03, 2010

If the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander doesn't turn things around for the troubled brand its fate, at least in the U.S., will be decidedly uncertain.

Remember Packard?  Or Plymouth?  How about Eagle or Oldsmobile?

A search of the automotive morgue yields the name of more than 800 different brand names that have vanished from the U.S. market alone over the last century.  Some, like Packard and Olds, were immensely popular in their day, the latter General Motors division generating sales of more than a million as recently as the early-1980s.  Others, like Chrysler’s Eagle, were ill-conceived ventures that were given mercifully little time before being pulled from the market.

As Ford’s announcement that it will finally pull 71-year-old Mercury off life support underscores, the ongoing automotive sales crisis has led to the demise of more automotive brands than at any time since the Great Depression.  The question, analysts ask, is whether still more nameplates could vanish in the coming years?

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Is there room for a Suzuki, Mitsubishi or Saab, as well as Ram and Fiat?

(Click Here for more on Mercury’s demise. More on vanishing brands on the next page.)

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