It's Official: Ford Dumps Mercury Brand

Like GM, Ford Motor Company is continuing to shrink its brand portfolio. Following the recent sale of Volvo Cars to China's Geely, with which it completed the dismantling of the premium group that once included Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover, the Deaborn automaker made it official today that it will terminate the Mercury division in the fourth quarter of this year.

Given Mercury's declining sales over the years (the brand holds a pitiful 0.8 percent market share in the U.S. - overall Ford has 16%) and the fact that its entire lineup comprises of re-grilled / re-badged Ford models, the announcement was no surprise.

Some had suggested in the past that Mercury should do what GM is doing with Buick - enhance its U.S. lineup with Ford's European models, but apparently that role is partially going to Ford with the new Euro-style Fiesta and Focus cars.

Ford admitted that the majority of current Mercury sales are to fleet buyers and customers purchasing through employee, retiree and friends and family discounts, which the company anticipates can be satisfied by Ford brand vehicles.

The company added that it will work closely with Mercury dealers and customers during the transition, providing providing existing owners with access to parts and service support at Ford and Lincoln dealers and by honoring current warranties.

"We are 100 percent committed to supporting Mercury owners through Ford and Lincoln dealerships and working hard to keep them as valued customers in the future," said Ford President, Mark Fields.

"At the same time, we will work closely with our dealers to phase out Mercury franchises and continue to build a healthy, growing Lincoln with strong new products and a profitable dealer network that delivers a world-class customer experience."

Mercury was introduced into the market 71 years ago by Edsel Ford as a Buick-like, mid-priced alternative to mainstream Ford and luxury Lincoln models.

The brand's sales peaked at 579,498 units in 1978, but have since plunged to just 92,299 vehicles in 2009. In the first quarter of 2010, Mercury's sales accounted for a mere 1.9% of FoMoCo's global sales.