The Mercury brand will die a slow death, according to an Automotive News report that cited two sources. Ford Motor Co. supposedly wants to eliminate the 71-year-old brand in a manner that will be disclosed in detail to the board of directors in July.
The sources say that Ford is no longer able to defend the cost of supporting Mercury in view of the brand's declining volume.
Of course, Ford didn't come up with this plan overnight. In fact, Ford has been planning Mercury's departure for years. Decades ago, Lincoln dealers were urged to include Mercury franchises so that they can have the volume required to survive.
Recently, Ford has proceeded to consolidate those dealerships into Ford-Lincoln-Mercury stores. Those dealers currently get their volume from Ford brand sales.
Notably, Ford Motor had 1,780 Mercury franchisees at the end of 2009, but there were only 292 stand-alone Lincoln-Mercury stores while there are no stand-alone Mercury stores. In 2009, Lincoln-Mercury dealers sold 175,146 vehicles; of which, only 92,299 were Mercurys. Ford also did away with having separate Ford and Lincoln Mercury divisions within the company.
The Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealer councils were merged. According to some Mercury franchisees, Ford has stacked the Lincoln Mercury side of the council with dealers who also have Ford stores.
Many believe that Ford has dropped hints some time ago. One very telling incident was when Ford excluded Lincoln-Mercury dealers at a recent dealer meeting in Detroit. Ford had said that a meeting for Lincoln-Mercury dealers will take place this fall.