Good-bye Pontiac — Mercury, are you still there?
by Jim Corbran - posted 8:59 pm, April 27, 2009
Now that General Motors has taken my advice and decided to discontinue the Pontiac brand (“The Pontiac Niche” Artvoice, vol. 8, no. 12) let’s turn our attention to Ford. I know, they so far haven’t taken any bailout bucks, but that’s only due to the line of credit that CEO Alan Mulally had the foresight to obtain before this whole “auto industry-on-the-rocks” debacle began some months ago.
Okay Mr. Mulally (and you too Bill Ford, if you want the family name to still stand for something in the coming years), start up the company hacksaw and and make quick work of the Mercury division. Think about it: anyone who wants a Milan can buy a Fusion; Mariner? let me show you an Escape; Mountaineer shoppers won’t know the difference when they climb into an Explorer; Sable seekers who are far-sighted might just as easily step into a Taurus; anyone who simply must have a Navigator probably could either buy a pimped-out Expedition or — what the hell, a Cadillac Escalade, as Navigator sales figures can’t be large enough to make a difference losing a few sales to Cadillac.
I’m not so sure the answer is so easy at Chrysler. There’s a new Chrysler 300 coming down the pike soon. Rental car companies seem to love the Sebring and Dodge Avenger. The Dodge Caliber is a capable compact; and minivans are still holding their own (for now). Although everyone in the automotive press seems to think that Jeep is a huge asset to the company, if gas prices climb again to last summer’s levels Jeep dealers will be holding BOGO sales (“…and if you act in the next 15 minutes we’ll throw in a Ram pickup absolutely free!!”). The Fiat 500 will help if that deal ever goes through. Fiat also has a few more interesting small cars, but they better hope that anyone who remembers Fiat’s dreadful record of service and reliability from their last North American venture is either dead or too old to drive.
Should be an interesting few months for the auto industry.