Ford Fusion Seeks Gains in the Auto Industry's Toughest Segment
DETROIT. -- (TheStreet) -- The world awaits the new Ford (F) Fusion.
The 2013 Fusion was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January and is scheduled to go on sale this fall. The car is important because it represents Ford's entry in the large and hyper-competitive midsized sedan segment, which includes three of the top 10 best-selling U.S. vehicles, and because it is a car with an unusually high design component in what is viewed as a functional segment.
Through July, four of the top 10 best-selling U.S. vehicles, and six of the top 15, were midsize sedans. Toyota(TM) Camry was the country's second best-selling vehicle with 243,816 sales. Honda(HMC) Accord was fifth with 183,817. Nissan Altima was sixth with 183,703 and Fusion was 10th with 160,175. GM's (GM) Chevrolet Malibu was 11th with 153,782 and Hyundai Sonata was 15th with 138,390.
Fusion and Malibu are the best-selling cars made by the Detroit Three, which remain far more dependent on trucks than their competitors. Part of the reorganization of the U.S. auto industry is that all three are working towards the goal of being something more than just pickup truck companies that also making cars. This is another reason why Ford's fate is so closely tied to the Fusion, by far its best-selling car.
"Fusion is going to be a very big product introduction for us," said Ford analyst Erich Merkle. "We are looking to expand our product portfolio and we are looking directly at Camry and Accord. We want volume where they have it -- particularly as we look to California, the largest passenger car market."
Share gain is slow in the auto business, but in California Ford's market share has grown from about 7% in 2008 to about 9% today, driven largely by gains in sales of compact cars the Fiesta and Focus, as well as, the Edge and Explorer utility vehicles.
Camry and Accord are not exactly vehicles one would choose as rivals. A new Camry came to market in September 2011 and has been a major success, with year-to-date sales up 40% from a year earlier. Meanwhile, Honda rolled out its new Accord last week. While Accord volume has been falling in recent years, Accord still garners about 11% of the sales in the segment, with incentives that are 14% below the segment average, according to Edmunds.com.