Ford Fusion redesign cancelled amid declining car sales

Sales of the Fusion have fallen 21 percent, but Ford will keep the nameplate for at least a few more years.

There are new twists in the saga of the Ford Fusion, but the long-term future of the Blue Oval's best-selling car remains unclear. The Detroit News got a hold of a letter sent to suppliers in November in which Ford says it is canceling a planned North American redesign for a 2020 Fusion, though that doesn't necessarily mean the nameplate will go away.

The Detroit News, citing an unnamed source, also reports that the Fusion and Mondeo, its overseas sibling sedan, will remain part of the Ford stable for at least three or four years. It published a statement from Ford spokesman Mike Levine saying that the "Fusion remains an important part of the Ford lineup for years to come with even more new fresh features on the way. We will have more news to share in the future."

Sales have been falling for the Fusion and cars in general for Ford, which, like other automakers, is adjusting to a shift in consumer preferences toward crossovers, SUVs and pickups. CEO Jim Hackett has been working to shift the product lineup accordingly and cut production costs.

The company on Wednesday reported that U.S. sales of the Fusion fell 21.1 percent in 2017 to 209,623 units, the third straight year of declining sales for the sedan. Including the Lincoln brand, Ford sold 595,390 cars last year, a 14.2-percent drop from 2016, while sales of SUVs and trucks both rose year over year to more than 1.99 million on the strength of models like the F-150 and the redesigned 2018 Expedition.

What a future Fusion could look like, if it does indeed survive, is open to interpretation. As we've recently written, the Fusion has suffered amid comparatively wider profit margins for crossovers and stronger competition from the newly redesigned Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It should be noted, though, that the cancellation of a redesign doesn't preclude the sort of heavy refresh Ford has frequently undertaken in the past in lieu of full model redo.

Adding to the uncertainty is Ford's decision to move production of the Fusion and Mondeo to China from plants in Mexico and Spain in 2020 while saying it won't export those China-built cars to the United States.

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