Through a news release Wednesday, the Ford Motor Company provided a definite end to their Mercury brand after 2010. A mid-level division anchor used to draw general sales to Lincoln-Mercury dealerships, existing franchises converting to Lincoln-only business is understandably concerned about their future appeal. Bringing solace to Lincoln retailers, the announcement for the demise of Mercury details an exciting new path for Ford’s premium brand highlighted new vehicle offerings over the next 4 years.
Pointing to the 2011 Lincoln MKX crossover and an upcoming MKZ Hybrid as immediate new products, a new C-segment (compact) car is officially confirmed as coming down the pipelines. A reversal from the apparent ‘big and beautiful’ philosophy boasted by past sedans and sport utility vehicles, a compact Lincoln was previewed in prototype form in 2009 in the C Concept. A crisp, two-box design vehicle, the Lincoln C Concept projected some optimistic styling inspiration for how the future production compact car may resemble. While no production details have been released, this Lincoln compact car will likely share the 2011 Ford Focus underpinnings along with a powerplant from Ford’s new EcoBoost four-cylinder engine family.
Though downsizing luxury brands is widely accepted in Europe and even Canada, the United States auto consumer has not reacted entirely well to smaller luxury vehicles. Lincoln’s main competitor Cadillac encountered a marketing disaster called the Cadillac Cimarron during the mid to late 1980s. While Cadillac stumbled, other European luxury car companies have recently found traction with smaller vehicles. The BMW 1-Series and Audi A3 are two vehicles demonstrating that American tastes may be warming to premium small cars.
Even before the plans for Mercury was divulged, Ford’s premium marque Lincoln enters 2010 within the process of a massive revitalization. Falling victim to the success of their full-sized Navigator sport utility vehicle which started in the late 1990s, their car business suffered from unexciting products. The Lincoln brand was also shuffled within Ford being mismatched with Jaguar and Volvo under a short-lived strategic Prestige brand pairing. On top of this, Lincoln was losing market share to an energized rival Cadillac. As foreign luxury makes were sold off by Ford, Lincoln finally received comprehensive attention.
Selling 82,847 vehicles in 2009, Lincoln has made massive gains in market share gaining 1.8 per cent in 5 years.