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The Selling of the Mariner Hybrid

11 July 2005

Ford’s online sales portal

As it promised, Ford has begun to sell its Mercury Mariner Hybrid (details) today, although almost exclusively online, and in limited quantities.

The company currently plans to manufacture 2,000 Mariner Hybrids for the 2006 model year, with volume growing to 4,000 annually.

Although buyers may place orders at certain certified dealerships, Ford intends for the majority of inquiries and orders to flow online through its site

Online “Personal Sales Consultants” will function as the primary liaison between customers and dealerships. First come/first served real-time consumer demand will determine which dealers and customers receive the vehicles.

Ford’s initial advertising campaign is also primarily online. The company is also working with the Sierra Club to get the word out about the vehicle.

We are taking a very non-traditional approach to marketing the Mercury Mariner Hybrid because our target customers are very progressive. The Mercury Mariner Hybrid’s target customers are looking for distinctive design, the versatility of a sport-utility vehicle and advanced technology that is capable of bettering both their lives and the environment. Moreover, they are tech-savvy: our research indicates that more than eighty percent of Mercury shoppers begin their shopping experience online.

—Al Giombetti, president, Lincoln Mercury division

The Mercury Mariner Hybrid is a more luxurious cousin to the Ford Escape Hybrid and delivers estimated fuel economy of 33 mpg/city and 29 mpg highway (some 7% less than the slightly lighter Escape). It also meets the stringent California Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions (AT-PZEV) Standard. The Mariner Hybrid can run in electric-only mode up to 25 miles per hour.

Pricing for the Mariner hybrid starts at $29,840—36% higher than the entry price of $21,995 for a conventional Mariner.

Since its introduction in October 2004, the Ford Escape hybrid has sold, on average, 1,181 units per month. For the first six months of 2005, 7,634 units have left the showrooms—tracking to be less than the 20,000 units for which Ford had originally planned, but still substantially above the 4,000 annual projected for the Mariner.

On strictly a mathematical basis, that makes some sense. Mariner sales (year-to-date) are approximately 20% those of Escape sales. Apply the same ratio to the hybrid sales within the brands (20% of the projected 20,000 Escape hybrid sales) and you get to the 4,000 unit level for the Mariner hybrid.

July 11, 2005 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (1)


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That's a steep premium ($7845) to get the hybrid. Anybody got the mpg specs on the non-hybrid Mariner? It sounds like they're trying to skim the extra profits from early adopters before they ramp up production and lower the price.

Which is just fine. I really want car manufacturers -- particularly USA-based ones -- to make money on hybrids.

That's a steep premium ($7845) to get the hybrid. Anybody got the mpg specs on the non-hybrid Mariner? It sounds like they're trying to skim the extra profits from early adopters before they ramp up production and lower the price.

Which is just fine. I really want car manufacturers -- particularly USA-based ones -- to make money on hybrids.

* I hope this isn't a double post... *

$7845 to steep of a premium for me. Guess someone will pay it though. $3000 is more like what it should be.

Mariner Hybrid: 33 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway (est.)

Conventional Mariner starts at 22 city/26 highway. Overall, about a 32% improvement on fuel economy, combined.

The media seems to be caught in a "must compare apples to apples" mindset. That is, they'll only look at how a hybrid SUV compares to the equivalent SUV, or how a hybrid car compares to its closest equivalent. They insist on comparing my Prius to the Camry for this reason.

That ignores all the apples to oranges comparisons we really make when we shop for cars.

It strikes me that these hybrid SUVs are not beating the "sport wagons" by much, if anything, on real world mileage. It will be interesting to see how that data percolates through the media ... whether they'll just blast "hybrids" or if they'll actually suggest high mileage alternatives to SUVs.

And ... when you get right down to it, with a mountain bike in the back of my prius, I'm going to use it like a lot of people use their SUVs. That is, drive on roads to the edge of the wilderness, park ... and go riding.

I'm inclined to view this marketing plan with suspicion.
Do you think that this marketing program is going to be effective or is it half-hearted? Is the $7,845 price premium going to hurt sales, especially when there are other hybrids out there that are cheaper and thus maybe more appealing to early-adopters?

[Begin sarcasm] These Ferraris, they're just a few seconds faster than a regular car and therefore don't really pay their way. Until Ferrari makes a car that competes dollar for dollar with a regular car they'll never be successful.[end sarcasm] Hybrids are (currently) an emotional buy, like sports cars, super luxury SUVs, etc. It's just that "high efficiency" is such an unfamiliar cousin of the phrase "high performance".

BTW, in a busy society it might be stronger sell to calculate how many fewer times you have to stop at a gas station each year. Having doubled my city mileage with my new Prius, I cut my gas station visits in half ... nice.

Note: Before everyone jumps in and points out that these aren’ t the best bits around— we realize that. Truthfully, there’ s absolutely no way any company could sell even a quality set of lettered/ numbered/ fraction drill bits alone for 50. The idea behind kits like this is that they’ re meant for home use (like we mentioned at the top of the article). Our idea is that this might make a good home kit. Your thoughts?

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