Ford executives have long been hinting that the company’s sedan portfolio would change. Executives in October said Ford would offer fewer car nameplates but did not offer specifics. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. plans to end North American production of the Fusion midsize sedan at the end of the decade, Automotive News has learned, casting doubt about the future of the nameplate in the U.S. as consumers shun cars for crossovers and SUVs.
The automaker has begun informing suppliers that it will not build the next-generation Fusion at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, where the car is currently made, according to sources familiar with the discussions. It’s unclear whether Ford would stop selling the Fusion in the U.S., replace it with a different vehicle, or build it elsewhere. A spokesman declined to comment.
The car will not be shipped to the United States from China, Ford said Wednesday, denying a Reuters report that the automaker would consolidate global production of the Fusion and Mondeo sedans in China. Ford currently builds the Mondeo in China for that market as part of its joint venture with Changan Ford, and it makes the European Mondeo in Valencia, Spain.
“We have no plans to export the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo from China to North America and Europe,” Ford said in an emailed statement. “Fusion / Mondeo are an important part of the Ford car lineup. We will have more information to share about the next Fusion/Mondeo at a later date.”
Ford planned to begin building the third-generation Fusion in 2020 for the 2021 model year, one source told Automotive News.
Ford executives have said they believe the shift among U.S. consumers from cars to crossovers and SUVs is permanent. The Fusion would be the highest-volume car to go out of production in North America as a result of the crossover boom, marking a dramatic twist in the life of a nameplate that was key to Ford’s turnaround after the recession that ended in 2009.
As recently as last year, Ford was building the Fusion in Michigan and in Mexico.
Suppliers have been told Ford also plans to stop producing the Mondeo at a plant in Valencia, Spain.
Ford is in the midst of reviewing its entire product portfolio under new CEO Jim Hackett. Executives in October said Ford would offer fewer car nameplates but did not offer specifics.
“Every good business, over time, should be pruning its portfolio to make room for new stuff and remove some things that are past their time,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, said at the Automotive News World Congress in January.
It’s unclear what vehicle would take the Fusion’s place at Ford’s Hermosillo plant. The automaker also builds the Lincoln MKZ, which shares underpinnings with the Fusion, on the same assembly line. Ford last week revealed plans to build an electric crossover at its other Mexico plant, in Cuautitlan, where it currently makes the subcompact Fiesta.
Ford said earlier this year that the North American Focus would be imported from China, which is now the world’s largest vehicle market, instead of Mexico, where it had planned to build a $ 1.6 billion plant. The end of Focus production in Michigan became a thorny issue for Ford when President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked the plan to assemble it in Mexico during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Ford has said moving the Focus to China will save about $ 500 million. Cost cuts have been a priority under new CEO Jim Hackett, who has vowed to reallocate $ 7 billion of capital from cars to light trucks in the coming years.
Ford has sold more than 2.7 million Fusions in the U.S. since its introduction in 2005, but this year will mark a third consecutive decline in volume since annual sales peaked at 306,860 in 2014, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
U.S. Fusion sales are down 22 percent this year through November, vs. a 16 percent slide for the midsize segment overall.
And overall U.S. car deliveries are on track to decline for the fourth straight year in 2017.
Let’s block ads! (Why?)