Will Mercury be the next to say goodbye?
While Ford execs remain officially mum for the moment, Bloomberg has reported that the automaker plans to pull the plug on its Mercury brand in the near future. A formal presentation on the matter will be made to members of the company's board of directors at a scheduled meeting in July. According to unnamed inside sources, the decision to shut down what has become -- and remained -- FoMoCo's lowest-profile marque is supported by the firm's CEO Alan Mulally and members of the Ford family which holds 40 percent of the corporate stock, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Elena Ford, great granddaughter of Edsel Ford who established the Mercury division in 1939.
The Mercury lineup currently consists of only four vehicles: the mid-size Milan sedan, full-size Grand Marquis, compact Mariner SUV and mid-size Mountaineer, which are directly spun from the Ford Fusion, Crown Victoria, Escape and Explorer models, respectively. The fate of the Grand Marquis has already been sealed, as Ford will close the factory where it's currently produced in 2011. While the remaining trio still has some life left in their current generation runs, time may well be running out for them, as well. At present, Mercury accounts for just over five percent of Ford Motor Company's total annual sales volume. Although eliminating the brand will entail considerable short-term cost and effort to resolve issues with existing Mercury dealers, the long-term gains that will allow the automaker to better focus on its more youthful Ford and Lincoln product lines are expected to justify this streamlining decision.