While Ford Motor Company’s plans to exit the “traditional sedan” segment in North America haven’t changed, the automaker isn’t entirely doing away with cars in the market. The Ford Focus will live on as a crossover-inspired “Active” model, for instance – a model that attempts to split the difference between car and crossover, offering an SUV attitude in a smaller package.
And then, there’s the Ford Fusion, which we’ve just learned could be transformed into a crossover-like “sport wagon” à la Subaru Outback. That’s according to The Detroit News, which received the news from some unnamed sources, and it’s more than a little ironic given that Ford Europe has for years offered a station wagon model of the Ford Mondeo (a.k.a. “Fusion”) that the automaker never deemed worthy to put in front of an American audience.
Still, the offering would mesh with Ford’s decision to axe its North American sedan models without entirely abandoning the car segment, exploring the “white space” that exists between cars and crossover utility vehicles. Moreover, it makes a lot of sense; the Fusion name has a lot of cachet with American consumers, even though scores of consumers continue to flock to CUVs, leaving traditional car segments a bit deflated.
“[Ford] spent hundreds of millions of dollars for brand equity in that Fusion name – not $10 million or $20 million, but hundreds of millions,” Ford dealer Rhett Ricart of Ohio told The Detroit News. “The smart thing is to play on that brand equity.”
Playing on the Fusion name’s equity is especially important given that owners aren’t necessarily loyal to the Ford brand. The Detroit News reports that a Kelley Blue Book analysis found that less than half of Fusion owners are loyal to the Blue Oval; when they’re ready to graduate to a CUV, the models they most often consider are the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
If there is indeed a crossover-like Ford Fusion wagon in the works, it’s still likely several years out; the current-generation Fusion sedan just received a 2019-model-year refresh, and isn’t slated to end production until some time in 2021. Until then, stay tuned for more as it develops.