Drive Type: RWD/LHD
Trim: Decor Group
Snohomish, Washington, United States
When General Motors put down several of its brands in recent years, it also let loose thousands of brand-loyal customers who will eventually need another car.
R.L. Polk Associates estimates there are more than 18 million cars from 16 discontinued makes on the road today. Those "orphan owners" have sales-hungry competitors seeing dollar signs. GM is offering Saturn owners $1,000 cash toward a Chevy Cruze, Cadillac CTS or a GMC Acadia. Ford is giving its Mercury lease customers a chance to get out of their contracts with no early-termination penalty and offering to waive six remaining payments if they drive off in a Ford or Lincoln.
Edmunds.com research shows the efforts are paying off somewhat for GM, with 39 percent of Pontiac owners, 37 percent of Hummer owners and 31 percent of Saturn owners taking delivery of another GM-branded vehicle. But that leaves as much as 69 percent of owners going elsewhere. Ford, Honda and Toyota seem to be attracting many former GM owners.
The Detroit News reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially closed its investigations into 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2004-2005 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey models. The separate probes found no issues that pose safety concerns. NHTSA began investigating certain Grand Cherokee SUVs over complaints that power steering hoses could detach during operation, thereby increasing the risk of a vehicle fire. Of the 24 reports of failure, none alleged smoke or fire in the engine bay, and Chrysler has since modified the power steering cooler assembly to reduce the likelihood of the failure.
Meanwhile, certain Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey vehicles garnered a government probe after receiving complaints that the models were equipped with faulty scissor jacks. The agency had received six reports of the jacks failing or causing injuries, including one incident that resulted in a fatality. But NHTSA says the jack failure rate is similar to those found in other vehicles. In those six cases, the government agency found the jacks were being used for something other than changing a tire, and investigators could not determine whether the emergency brake was set or the rear tires were properly chocked.
Ford is already well into winding down its Mercury line, and the autoamker has announced that the very last of the soon-to-be dead brand's products built for retail sales was manufactured on Sunday, October 3. The final Mercury Mariner rolled off of the assembly line at the company's Kansas City facility, putting an end to a brand with over 70 years of history behind it.
Even after the Mariner heads off into the automotive sunset, Ford says that it will continue to manufacture a handful of Mercury models for fleet and government service for a while longer, though mum's the word on how long we can expect that practice to continue.
Interestingly enough, according to USA Today, most incentives on Mercury vehicles have all but dried up, even as the brand's August production increased by 120 percent compared to July's figures. Instead of cash on the hood, some areas are offering no-cost maintenance or similar programs. Even so, Mercury has continued to out-sell Lincoln right to the end - besting Ford's luxury arm's sales by nine percent in August.