|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 www.marinerhybrid.com.
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.