While Ford's decision to cut the Mercury brand from its lineup makes good business sense, the long term benefits come with a more immediate down side. In an increasingly competitive market, by eliminating the Mercury brand Ford is also potentially eliminating 92,299 sales.
According to Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl, Ford should keep roughly two-thirds of Mercury customers. And as much as Ford would like to see those customers headed to Lincoln showrooms, they are more likely to downsize their aspirations and stick to the Blue Oval. Most Mercury customers already cross-shop with Ford branded vehicles.
Adding to the swing towards Ford and away from Lincoln is FoMoCo's push to transform Lincoln into a true premium brand, market it as such and then build a reputation in the marketplace. That won't be easy, as the folks at Cadillac will tell you. With a vastly improved offering of products, Cadillac still can't seem to grab hold of traditional German sedan buyers.
Making Ford's risk even bigger is the fact that Lincoln is already an insubstantial brand, selling roughly half as many units as Mercury. So far this year, Lincoln has managed just 37,444 in sales, compared to 52,997 for Cadillac and 90,098 for Lexus.
The plan says Ford CEO Alan Mulally is to do with Lincoln what the brand company has done with the Ford brand over the past few years. Initially that seems all but impossible as Lincoln models continue to ride of platforms created for Ford models and are in many ways just rebadged and gussied-up Fords. Then again, marketing can go a long way to change a brand's perception and few automakers have achieved the marketing success that Ford has over the past several years, whether in regards to EcoBoost or the new Fiesta.
More: Ford Likely to Keep Two-Thirds of Mercury Customers, But Will They Go to Lincoln?