Sometime this afternoon Ford Motor is expected to kill the Mercury brand. This has been rumoured for quite a while, and it's evoked no end of hand-wringing among the American cognoscenti who believe nothing ever should change in the car business. Ever.
Well, my American friends, Ford of Canada killed the Mercury brand years and years ago, under then-CEO Bobbi Gaunt. I have yet to encounter a single Canadian expressing sadness over Mercury's demise. Mercury has been Ford's Plymouth and Oldsmobile for far too long. My question for Ford: What took you so long? Haven't you noticed what happened in Canada when Mercury went away? Nothing!
Word out of Detroit is that a new compact originally destined for Mercury will now become a Lincoln in 2012. That means we'll get that car in Canada. And lord knows, Lincoln needs all the help it can get both here and down south. The new compact will be based on the 2011 Ford Focus, according to various reports.
Meanwhile, scrapping Mercury will further enable Ford's product people to focus scarce investment dollars on its Blue Oval and Lincoln luxury marques. Another good thing.
Mercury has long been the obvious next target for CEO Alan Mulally. Since arriving in 2006, he has diligently led a simplification of Ford's operations. He wants Ford to be "One Ford" and that has meant jettisoning Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo, a controlling stake in Mazda and now Mercury.
If you've been watching the transformation at Ford, Mercury has not fit in the U.S. since at least 2005 when Ford began a campaign to turn it into a chick brand. Mercury, founded in 1939 by scion Edsel Ford, had no special appeal for women; rather, it is a relic of a different era. Now the deed is being done and it's about time.
So long, Mercury. We haven't missed you for decades.
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