Mercury Grand Marquis
Mercury currently sells four models -- Milan, Grand Marquis, Mariner and Mountaineer -- as well as hybrid models of the Milan and the Mariner. In the coming year, it will add a smaller car, not yet named, that will be built in Wayne, Mich., using the same platform as the Ford Focus. Mercury spokesman Mark Schirmer said the Grand Marquis has older buyers, but many buyers for other models were born in the 1950s. "Some consumers are looking for something not as mainstream as Ford," he said. "Mercury ends up attracting more female buyers, with a slightly higher education and slightly higher income. We have a lot of Mercury customers, who will replace their vehicles, and they are customers we are not willing to walk away from." Schirmer said that the new, smaller Mercury will have a different look than the Ford Focus -- different colors, different materials and more standard equipment.
Industry analyst Jim Harbour, founder of the Harbour Report, said retaining Mercury is a low-cost venture, given that its vehicles use Ford platforms. "You create a platform for Ford, you have one for Mercury too, and I have more features and I get a higher price," he said. "It's not a bad idea. You do have people who want to buy Mercurys."
But Ford's recent success has raised new questions about continuing Mercury, said analyst Jesse Toprak of TrueCar.com. "Mercurys are rebadged Fords, but it is almost cool to own a Ford now, so Ford is cannibalizing Mercury," Toprak said. "Ford's success makes Mercury less relevant." -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. .