Monthly Archive: September 2012

Sep 23

New Ford Fusion not likely to oust top-selling Toyota Camry, yet

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2013 Ford Fusion

As 2013 Ford Fusions begin rolling into dealerships, Ford can say that it has finally created the mythical Toyota Camry fighter.

It's something we've heard again and again from Detroit's carmakers, always poised but never able to deliver a midsize sedan that will outsell the venerable Camry.

This time, however, Ford may have a case.

Offering five powertrains, including a 47 mpg gas-electric hybrid, a powerful 2-liter model, all wrapped in a sexy exterior, the Fusion makes a strong case that it deserves a spot at the top of America's most cutthroat segment.

But numbers don't lie.

Last year, Ford sold 248,000 Fusions. This year, sales are up 7.7 percent through August at 181,000 cars, making the Fusion Detroit's top selling midsize car in America. But it's not even close to the top selling midsize car in the U.S., it's not even the third best selling midsize sedan. The Camry is on a big rebound. It has sold 280,000 cars this year alone, and sales are up 37 percent. It could sell 400,000 cars by year's end. Meanwhile, through August, the Honda Accord at 219,000 cars (sales up 19 percent) and the Nissan Altima is at 210,000 units.

Furthermore, the Camry remains the default choice for Baby Boomers. Style and performance be damned, these customers have always had a Camry and always will have a Camry.

So Ford, admittedly, has its work cut out for it.

Furthermore, the Fusion, which was originally assembled in Mexico, faced capacity limits, never having the ability to build as many Camry's as Toyota could. However, with the change over to the Flat Rock, Mich., factory, which also builds the Mustang, Ford will have the ability to match Toyota's capability.

But that will only be necessary if there's a true demand for the new car.

According to Sam Hoyt, Fusion brand manager, Ford expects big growth in Fusion sales next year, topping last year's high mark, though she would not give specific numbers.

"We've got to get more customers in places on the east and west coasts in order to grow," said Hoyt of the traditional import-centric regions.

Of the initial four powertrains offered, Hoyt says roughly 15 percent of new Fusion sales will be hybrids, 15 percent will be 2-liter turbocharged models - including the high end Titanium - 35 percent will have the base 2.5-liter engine under the hood and 35 percent will be powered with Ford's 1.6-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder. Of course, those are just the original expectations. Ford plans on being able to quickly adapt if demands change.

Hoyt says that Ford expects a conquest rate around 50 percent overall and about 70 percent for the hybrid.

"It could be even higher," Hoyt said.

Perhaps. And while the new Fusion bests the Camry in many areas at first blush, it's not likely to depose it as sales leader in the coming years.

But give it time. This race is far from over.

New Ford Fusion not likely to oust top-selling Toyota Camry, yet originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Sep 2012 12:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sep 11

Why are these kids going nuts destroying this VW GTI?

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Kids destroy VW GTI in a junkyard - video screencap

Fans of classic Volkswagen iron may want to look away. This video is not for the faint of heart if you are an 80s car fan, either. It contains graphic documentation of vehicular abuse on an unprecedented level. A group of ruthless youngsters absolutely destroy every bit of glass in this Mark II GTI. It's appalling.

Actually the video below is just a promotional effort for ClearPlex, a company that makes clear protective coating for windshields - a coating it is presumably showing off here (note that the apparent miscreants have no eye protection). The kids are not hoodlums, however, but rather actors (though we don't know if they were paid or simply did it for the enjoyment of breaking glass with baseball bats and tire irons), and judging by its setting, this GTI was likely headed for the crusher anyhow, though it looks to have lots of usable spares on it.

At the end of the video, the kids descend upon a brand-new Ford Mustang convertible. Do they go crazy on that car as well? You'll just have to click below to find out.

Continue reading Why are these kids going nuts destroying this VW GTI?

Why are these kids going nuts destroying this VW GTI? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sep 10

Ford to add 1,200 workers at Flat Rock plant

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With the 2014 Mazda6 being built in Japan, Ford is filling the production capacity at its Flat Rock Assembly plant (previously known as AutoAlliance International) with the 2013 Ford Fusion. The new Fusion goes on sale this fall, and while early versions of the car will continue to be made in Hermosillo, Mexico, production will switch to the Flat Rock, Mich. plant early next year.

Currently, that plant only builds the Ford Mustang, and to prepare for the higher volume that the Fusion will bring, Ford has announced it will be adding 1,200 new jobs to the plant in addition to a $555 million upgrade to the paint and body shops. Not only will this upgrade allow Flat Rock to be a more flexible plant, it will also allow it to be more environmentally friendly with a 3-Wet paint process that creates fewer pollutants and lowers overall paint costs.

The plant is still owned 50/50 between Ford and Mazda, but it will be managed 100 percent by Ford Motor Company going forward. Once Fusion production begins, Flat Rock Assembly will employ a total of 2,900 workers.

Continue reading Ford to add 1,200 workers at Flat Rock plant

Ford to add 1,200 workers at Flat Rock plant originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 10 Sep 2012 17:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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