Ford Motor Company’s ability to capture additional market share in the sedan and crossover segments is hinging heavily on the newly redesigned Ford Fusion mid-size sedan and Ford Escape crossover.
The refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion debuted recently at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, just months after the 2017 Ford Escape bowed at the 2015 Los Angeles show. According to Automotive News, both nameplates together constituted some 300,000 of the automaker’s US sales in 2015 – nearly a quarter of the company’s total US sales volume. Despite that, the road ahead for each model is littered with difficulties.
The sedan market segment simply isn’t what it used to be. AN reports that sales of midsize sedans slipped 2.1 percent in 2015, marginally less than the Ford Fusion’s decline of 2.2 percent. Factor in competition from the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu, plus heavy incentives on offerings from Japanese makes like Toyota and Nissan, and the refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion clearly has its work cut out for it – with or without the new “V6 Sport” model.
Meanwhile, the Ford Escape has been inhibited by production restraints, despite the intense popularity of the crossover SUV segment. AN reports that 2015 saw crossover sales in the US leap upward by as much as 15 percent, while the Escape only managed a 0.1 percent gain in sales. Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant – where both the Escape and Lincoln MKC crossovers are currently built – is bumping up against its utmost capacity limitations. Ford will reportedly move the MKC to another facility in the future, but that’s not likely to happen until the next generation Escape/MKC appears about 3 or 4 years from now.
Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs remarked to Automotive News: “We were limited in how aggressive we could be [with the Escape], given the capacity, but we sold everything we produced. We’ll lose a little bit of production in the ramp-up of the new one, but I think we’ll be in good shape for Escape sales this year.”
In short, while offering competitive product is key, Ford might find itself limited in the sedan and crossover segments: by waning sales in the former case, and by production restraints in the latter.