By now you're probably aware that Ford plans to bury the Mercury brand this year.  Another example of American car platforms wearing several badges within a parent corporation, Mercury vehicles have usually been Ford cars with slightly different styling.  CEO Alan Mulally has brought recent global success to the Ford name by focusing on brand image and product quality.  The next step in that strategy will be the final step for the Mercury line.

Lincoln is set to benefit from the loss of Mercury as Ford improves and expands its lineup.  Consumers will ultimately be given the choice of seven new or updated models from the Lincoln brand.  Development efforts and finances freed up by the cancellation of Mercury will be devoted to the future of Lincoln vehicles.  Although the death of the long-running brand may sting for a short time, Ford expects a quick recovery, complimented by "positive cash flow" this year.

This plan has me pondering similarities between Ford and GM.  Both have been shedding less promising brands to focus on the most profitable ones.  Both have (had) entry level and premium brands, with a middle-range lineup to fill in the gap.  The similarities seem to stop there.  While Ford plans to focus on its basic and premium brands, GM is giving a good deal of attention to Buick.  It seems to be working too.  Buick's image is changing from one of slow and slushy to sleek and sporty.  Ford has certainly proven it has what it takes to be profitable in a troubled economy.  General motors is recovering from an almost certain demise.  Who's strategy will prove to be the most successful?  Ford's lineup is strong, but Lincoln could use some help to be competitive in the premium car market. General Motors has good products coming from all three brands, but still faces challenges during its financial recovery.

[Forbes]