Commentary

Ford finally figured out how to give Mercury a unique lineup of cars, make Lincoln a viable luxury contender and rely on the Ford brand to really pull in the profits.

Amazingly, it’s all got to do with using the resources it already has at hand.

You’ve all read about how Ford is bringing in products from Europe. Here’s more detail on exactly what it plans to do.

The auto maker decreed that C-segment cars are where it’s going to build the volume in this business. After all, where there is volume there is economy of scale, and that’s where you make money in this business.

Ford already has several variants in the C-class segment, including the Focus, C-Max and Kuga. Bump it up to the C/D class and now the Mondeo joins the party. Importantly from a volume standpoint, the Focus is available in 3-, 4- and 5-door variants plus a station-wagon. The Mondeo comes in three body styles and shares the same architecture as the S-Max cross/utility vehicle, and Galaxy people-mover.

You want even more volume? Mazda and Volvo also use Ford’s C-class platform.

The company is going to bring six of these models to the American market in the near future, which will be sold as Fords. But that sure leaves a lot of other models to choose from. And this is where Mercury comes into the picture.

With common architectures and flexible manufacturing, Ford will be able to build different variants of its C-class platform in one plant, or several plants. And it will do it all in the U.S. with United Auto Workers union labor.

This means Ford now can build completely unique models for Mercury and still make money in the process. No more re-badged Fords.

I’d love to see the 5-door Mondeo and Kuga in Mercury showrooms in the next couple of years.

With Ford of Europe shouldering the C-class development, this frees up resources in North America to fully concentrate on fullsize cars and trucks, but especially on the Lincoln brand.

The auto maker promises Lincoln will get the resources it sorely needs and even dreams of one day making it a viable international brand. A flight of fancy, perhaps, but well worth dreaming.

Importantly, the C-segment strategy frees up resources all around the company.

For example, Ford’s Brazilian operations now will work on C-class variants that can be sold anywhere in the world. In the past, they would have modified existing designs to be sold solely in Brazil. Now, there are 1,000 additional Brazilian engineers working on Ford’s global portfolio.

Back before the world was as wired as it is today, Ford’s far-flung global operations concentrated exclusively on the country in which they were located. But with consumer tastes and government regulations converging around the world, it no longer makes sense for them to operate as separate entities.

In the past, what the Ford brand represented in the U.S. was very different from what it represented in Europe, South America, Australia, South Africa or Asia. Not anymore. From now on the company’s new mantra is “One Ford.”

John McElroy is editorial director of Blue Sky Productions and producer of “Autoline Detroit” for WTVS-Channel 56, Detroit, and Speed channel.