Can Ford's New Fusion Knock off the Camry?

Photo credit: Ford Motor Company

Ford's (NYSE: F  ) new Fusion sedan has been turning heads since its launch late last year. It's easy to see why: With its sleek flanks, Aston Martin-inspired grille, and luxury-car-like interior, it really stands out in a sea of blander-looking competitors.

And lately, it's been drawing quite a few customers. For the year to date through March, sales were up 26% over the first three months of 2012, as the new Fusion continues to outshine its well-regarded predecessor.

But will the Fusion have what it takes to overcome America's best-selling car, Toyota's (NYSE: TM  ) ever-popular Camry?

Rapidly rising on the U.S. sales charts
Ford already has America's best-selling vehicle, of course. Its F-Series pickup trucks have been the best-seller for decades, followed by the perennial runner-up, General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) Chevy Silverado pickup.

That's unlikely to change, because pickups are big business here in America. But it's after those two that the sales race gets interesting. So far in 2013, the next four biggest sellers are all midsized sedans: the Camry, Honda's (NYSE: HMC  ) Accord, Nissan's (NASDAQOTH: NSANY  ) Altima – and Ford's new Fusion.

The Fusion isn't far behind the Altima, with 80,558 sales through March to the Nissan's 86,952. But it has a ways to go to catch up to the Camry, which sold 100,830 through the first three months of the year.

Camry sales look strong, but they have been down 4% so far in 2013, thanks in part to the strength of the new Fusion. Does Ford's hot-looking sedan have a chance of catching up and dethroning the Camry?

Probably not, at least in the near term. Here's why.

Why Ford can't (yet) beat the Camry
Here's the problem: Ford's can't (yet) make enough Fusions to outsell the Camry. The company cut its North American production facilities way back during its painful restructuring last decade. That was a good move, one that has led to strong profits now that many of its factories are working overtime.

But it has a downside. With plants already running around the clock, Ford can't make many more Fusions than it is already making – at least, not easily. Ford U.S. sales chief Ken Czubay told reporters last week that strong sales and strong continuing demand for the Fusion in places like California and Florida could mean short supplies of the hot sedan in coming months.

Adding production means expensive investments in additional production lines, investments that Ford has been reluctant to make until it's sure it can sell the extra cars (and until it's sure that its suppliers will be able to keep up).

The good news is, with the Fusion, Ford is already preparing to step up production.

A $555 million investment to close the gap
Ford has already announced that it is adding a production line to build the Fusion at its Flat Rock, Mich., plant, where the Mustang is currently built. That isn't a cheap move: Ford is spending $555 million to install new tooling and facilities at the Flat Rock factory, and it's hiring 1,200 new hourly workers to staff the new production line. The production line should be up and running this fall.

These are big investments, but they're necessary ones if Ford is to realize the potential of its latest hit product.

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Read/Post Comments (41) | Recommend This Article (14)

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  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 8:19 PM, dwduke wrote:

    The Ford Fusion just might have a chance of beating Camry in sales. Americans are begining to see Fords again. Partly becasue Ford did not go to DC for a hand out like GM and Chrysler, partly becasue Ford has some great looking vehicles that have some style to them.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 8:32 PM, pilotojoser wrote:

    When, and if Ford start making a vehicle as reliable and LONG LASTING as the camry and for a change, start getting behind their products with affordable parts that you do not have to wait for them to be ordered for you, Then and ONLY then they will be able to start competing with Toyota. As for now, they are only making it look like if they are in conditions to compete.----Good try.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 8:35 PM, rand49er wrote:

    To answer the question in the headline of this story, it all depends on whether or not people in the U.S. stop believing the myth of foreign cars being somehow superior and become more "buy American" oriented. Liberals in particular are to blame for not buying domestic cars, if I may be so honest.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 8:54 PM, Sloppykisses wrote:

    We have this car and it IS beautiful but be sure to check out the windshield wipers on your test drive. They are really weird and distracting.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 8:58 PM, justinphilpot wrote:

    not at half again as much money.

    to bad, ford is still an American company.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 9:34 PM, Charlie11Delta wrote:

    To rand49er and all who think the Camry, Accord and Altima are foreign cars. The Fusion is made in Hermosillo, MEXICO, and has 30% American/Canadian parts. The Accord, Camry, and Altima are built in America, and have 50+% American/Canadian parts content. That is the standard for an AMERICAN car. The profits for the Accord, Camry, and Altima stay here, in the form of wages and payments for American workers and suppliers. Please stop the phony phrase Buy American for a car made in MEXICO. The Avalon also is an American car. Wake up folks. The nameplate is not where it is made. Check the fine print.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 9:43 PM, GregFanin wrote:

    Ford has a dealership problem---if you need it worked on you cant get it serviced. Toyota and Honda have great dealerships were you can get it worked on and fixed. I like the local dealer--but he is a sales manager turned owner---you gotta have a shop; with a good manager. thanks Greg

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 9:45 PM, fmikebigd wrote:

    yes it can and it will. everyone needs to stop buying into the idea that japan makes the best cars. I work on them day in and day out. buy far dollar for dollar FORD is the best........

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 9:46 PM, fmikebigd wrote:

    stop finding a reason to send your American money to japan or china or korea. every rose has its thorn... buy American.... FORD FORD FORD FORD

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 10:01 PM, inncfromnj wrote:

    Here's the deal people. Ford may be an American car company, however, Ford has ownership is Mazda, Jaguar and a few others.

    I an addition, Ford has plants in other countries which manufacture cars sold here in the US

    Now, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda ALL have plants here in the US staffed with AMERICAN workers, supporting AMERICAN families.

    If a product is made here with parts made here it is a domestic product.

    The Fusion may be a nice piece of machinery, but essentially it's a foreign made car.

    Look, this would never be an issue of the Japanese mfgr plants were unionized.

    The fact that those factories are non-union is what gets under the skin of some. I don't care.

    Make me a good product that is reliable and affordable, it gets my business.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 10:18 PM, GiantJohn wrote:

    inncfromnj, No- Here's the Deal. Ford does NOT own Jaguar (Tata Motors), nor Mazda, nor Volvo and for that matter Aston Martin either.

    They are an American owned company who happens to make products globally.

    The issue I have with Asian cars is how they got into the U.S. Market. Back in the 80' and 90's the Japaneese were heavily subsidized by their gov't and subsequently they DUMPED their products on our shores.

    They were cheaper because of this in addition of not having to bear Union legacy costs of over $2000 a car.

    Now they're here and we think it's great that they employ Americans, while the reality is that they stole better paying American jobs.

    I also have an issue with the fact that the Japan is a completely closed market to foreign cars, including American cars. It's total BS and the reason there will never be an Asian car in my driveway.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2013, at 11:02 PM, 18RC wrote:

    Even Ford mechanics buy and drive Camry's and Accords. Because they are vastly more reliable and durable and easier to drive and operate (Fusion has teeny-tiny sized dash controls and icons to identify them)

    Heck, even Ford's CEO Alan Mullaly drove a Lexus LS430 when he worked at Boeing.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 1:08 AM, Mixednutz wrote:

    Keep in mind the Ford Fusion was awarded the Green Car of the year for 3013. I can see no logical reason for an American to purchase any foreign car knowing how it effects our economy and employment.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 1:17 AM, edenstreet wrote:

    i own a ford fusion since jan 1, this is my first ford vehicle. one look at this car wow,one test, then ownership. a class act. great looking easy to drive has the wow factor. thank you

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 1:55 AM, andrew8989 wrote:

    I have a 1992 ford f250 pickup. (built in the U.S.) All the Ford/Motorcraft replacement parts I buy for general maintenance like air filters, oil filters, fuel filters, etc. are all made in the U.S. I buy them at O'Reily's/Kragens and they are all cheaper than the chinese parts that the quick lube places sell. It is one of the most reliable vehicles we've ever owned. Never had a breakdown or any mechanical failure since we've owned it and we can drive it cross- country with no problems. (previous owner put in a new transmission at 142k, however you can't really fault the truck for it as it did heavy duty towing and hauling for 15 years on the original transmission) Has 167,000 miles and the engine still runs like a truck that's maybe 5-7 years old. You wouldn't think it's 21 years old. You don't have to buy Japanese to have a reliable vehicle. It's good to stick with a platform that's been used for many years and all the kinks are worked out. (crown victoria, old f-series, etc) You'll get a reliable vehicle for a really low price and cheap american made parts. I would only buy a Ford.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 2:48 AM, pissonford wrote:

    the 2 best selling car in the usa is the honda accord an Toyota Camry i dont trus a ford be call what happen to my parnet in 1988 becall they got a new in 1988 tempo gl an the ford people said it was normal for the car be junk an parkway ford in winston salem told mom an dad to sit down know mom an dad like honda ford people need to make things right with i would till every one how sorry ford is but i know the truck are good dont know if the car got beater or not i use to be a ford fan

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 5:23 AM, MddMxx13 wrote:

    let America rule the Road, again. Made in America, by American's.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 8:05 AM, ponchoman49 wrote:

    Camry's are like cockroaches. They are infested all over the place because Toyota dumps them in so many countries and makes attractive lease deals and offers. Compared to most other mid size sedans they are rather mediocre and blandly styled. The current one is just a half baked refresh of the previous model which rarely ever won any comparison to it's rivals. And to the folks that keep insisting they are so reliable and last forever-bull. We own a car dealership in upstate, NY and sell many makes and models and run a basic service repair garage. There just as many if not more Toyotas and Hondas coming in for check engine lights, bad wheel bearings, transmission failures on the Hondas, electrical glitches etc as the GM's and Fords. And not a day goes by where a GM or Ford with 200-300K miles comes through that still runs strong and looks good!

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 9:05 AM, snowrunner51 wrote:

    Wake up people. Look at the sticker in the door of the ford fusion. MADE IN MEXICO.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 10:27 AM, oldstambo wrote:

    I have a 2013 fusion se with a 2.0 turbo eco boost. Lots of design flaws. Ice and snow build up between exhaust and the openings in the rear fascia. Too much space between pipes and outlets. Sticks in low gear sometimes won't shift. Really poor gas mileage I never get close to thirty. sync stinks.

    Mud and sand get between rear fender and fascia joint and runs down the side of the car. Ice and snow build up between wheel and fenders so tires rub constantly on the ice. Windshield wipers, who designed them????

    Good looks,lots of complements So No it won't beat a Toyota

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 10:30 AM, ahadi23 wrote:

    "They stole American jobs" And who signed the bill for jobs to go overseas???! 75 and hour wasn't enough for greedy unions. Also, had a Ford once turned out to be the biggest pos ever. If they have quality now I MIGHT consider another one.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 11:16 AM, puppybone69 wrote:

    If the Fusion doesn't outsell the Camry this year, it certainly will next year. It's already outselling the F-150 and the Mustang, which were Ford's two best selling vehicles before the new Fusion arrived. As for supply issues, I had to wait 3 months for the new Fusion that I ordered in October to arrive, so I'm sure by now the wait is more like 6 months. At the time, I thought my 3 month wait was way too long, but now I'm glad I didn't wait any longer to place my order! Mine is an SE with the 2.0 EcoBoost and I'm getting about 30mpg everywhere I go in it, without any problems at all, so ignore the posters obviously making false comments here. How can snow and ice build up around the exhaust? Not while the car is running it can't, the heat melts it! The optional splash guards take care of mud and sand all over the sides of the car, and the wipers are no more weird and distracting than any other car with counter rotating wiper blades, they do a far more thorough job of cleaning the windshield to provide better visibility than regular wipers do, as the only unwiped area is a very small one hidden behind the rearview mirror, the rest is all cleared! Anyone who owns one and tells you something bad about it is probably just trying to deter sales so they'll remain unique and keep getting special attention with it like they are now, not because there really is anything wrong with the car itself! After 3 months and 3000 miles, I've only put $300 worth of gas in mine, poor mileage is a driver issue!

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 11:20 AM, autoenthusiast wrote:

    It's highly unlikely the Fusion will unseat the Camry and this is why. Toyota can play the same game Ford plays with the Fusion, huge incentives (especially manufacturer to dealer incentives) and huge fleet sales (30%+ for the Fusion and only about 10% for the Camry).

    And despite this the Fusion still trails the Camry (You would have to add 25% to the Fusion sales to match the Camry so far this year).

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 11:59 AM, wings12 wrote:

    There is alot of false information being posted here. The Toyota Camry doen't out sell the F-150.

    Here are the top selling vehicles of 2012.

    1 Ford F-Series 645,316

    2 Chevrolet Silverado 418,312

    3 Toyota Camry 404,886

    4 Honda Accord 331,872

    5 Honda Civic 317,909

    6 Nissan Altima 302,934

    7 Dodge Ram 293,363

    8 Toyota Corolla 290,947

    9 Honda CR-V 281,652

    10 Ford Escape 261,008

    11 Ford Focus 245,922

    12 Ford Fusion 241,263

    13 Chevrolet Cruze 237,758

    14 Hyundai Sonata 230,605

    15 Chevrolet Equinox 218,621

    16 Chevrolet Malibu 210,951

    17 Hyundai Elantra 202,034

    18 Toyota RAV4 171,877

    19 VW Jetta 170,424

    20 Chevrolet Impala 169,351

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 12:02 PM, wings12 wrote:

    The new Ford Fusion will be built in the USA soon. The Ford Fusion is currently built in Mexico. But the Flat Rock Michigan plant is being tooled for the new Fusion and production will start in the end of this year or the begining of next year.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 12:04 PM, wings12 wrote:

    Most domestic cars are still built in the USA.

    Ford builds the Mustang, Focus, Taurus, Escape, Explorer, Expedition, F150, F250, Lincoln MKS & Navigator in the USA. GM builds the Volt, Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, Corvette, Equinox, Buick LaCrosse & Verano & Enclave, Cadillac CTS, ATS, SRX and Escalade, Tahoe, Traverse, Suburban, Silverado, Sierra, and Yukon in the USA! Chrysler builds the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, Dart, Durango, Nitro, Jeep Compass, Wrangler, Patriot, Liberty, and Ram 1500 in the USA.

    The new Chevy Impala and Ford Fusion will also be built in the USA within the next year.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 12:05 PM, wings12 wrote:

    Most of the Asian car models are imported. Toyota imported over 600,000 vehicles alone in 2012.

    Toyota imports the RAV4, Prius, Prius C, Prius V, Yaris, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, 4Runner, & Matrix. All Lexus (Toyota) models are imported IS, GS, ES, LS, PX, GX, LX. All Scion (Toyota) models tC, xB, xD, iQ, FR-S. Kia imports the Soul, Rio, Forte, Sportage, and Sedona. Hyundai imports the Genesis, Accent, Veloster, Azera, Tucsan, Veracruz and Equus. Nissan imports the Versa, Sentra, Cube, Leaf, Juke, GTR, 370Z, Rogue, Murano, Infiniti QX, FX, M, G, IPL. Honda imports the Fit, CR-Z, CR-V, Civic, Insight, FCX Clarity, Acura TSX, TSX sport wagon, ZDX, & MDX. Suzuki imports the Kizashi, SX4 (all models), and Grand Vitara. Mitsubishi imports the Lancer (all models), I, Outlander, and Eclipse production ended in USA. All Mazda’s are imported now, Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata, RX-5, Tribute, CX-7, CX-9. Subaru imports the Impreza, WRX, BRZ, and Forrester.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 12:07 PM, rondorondorondo wrote:

    Simply put, nope.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 12:56 PM, ahadi23 wrote:

    So I have a foregin car...guess that makes me a liberal. Love some people's way of "logic".

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 1:40 PM, RickMcCallister wrote:

    I dutifully went to the local Ford Dealer and they wanted $8,000 more for a Fusion than what a Camry was going for. Toyota then gave me 0.0% interest on top of that, Unless Ford dealers cooperate and stop gouging, the fusion will be a fission dud.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 2:02 PM, wjdelorrell wrote:

    Ford has become a pricey automobile. They have vehicles that compete in price with mid-level

    luxury cars. Their quality has improved, but is not equal to Toyota. The Camry is significantly lower in price than the Fusion, especially when the dealers are offering price leaders to the general public in their ads. Essentially, you can get a Camry cheaper and it will outlast the Fusion.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 2:21 PM, cuddlybear73 wrote:

    I have been selling cars for 15yrs . I started selling GM vehciles back in the mid 90's. I love thier trucks the engines are great. The quality of the cars and the intrusion of the UAW ruined the cars and quality also alot of GM is made in mexico not the USA!!! So how is that helping the american workers??

    Now I worked for Honda and Toyota. Are thier cars slightly priceier?? Yes they are for a reason you won't find engines and transmission behind these shops as they very rarley need to be replaced this cannot be said for the Domsestics. The Toyota Camry is made in the USA as is most of thier corollas. All Hybrids are still made in Japan.

    80% of all toyotas sold in the past 15yrs are still on the road today!! What percentage of domestics do you still think are running?? Now only if Toyota could make really great looking vehciles that could match the look for the fusion and some other cars.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 2:22 PM, wings12 wrote:

    Rick - Nice try. You must have been comparing the most expensive version of the Fusion with all the options compared to the base Camry with no options.

    It is easy to find that you are not being truthful. I just want to my local Ford dealers website and my local Toyota dealers website.

    The new Ford Fusions ranged from $22,500 to $27,300.

    The new Toyota Camrys ranged from $24,900 to $28,200.

    These prices do not include the hybrid models or the V6 Camry.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 2:26 PM, wings12 wrote:

    "80% of all toyotas sold in the past 15yrs are still on the road today!!"

    What are you a Toyota salesman/commercial? There is no DATA to support that statement.

    I know that the domestics that I have had have easily lasted 15 years. I have one that is currently at 13 years and I have only had to replace a turn signal switch.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 2:35 PM, Harabingatz wrote:

    I will still stick with a Toyota. I have driven nothing but a Toyota since my teenage years, they've been great, reliable, long lasting cars. In fact I still have my first '79 Celica.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 4:02 PM, 18RC wrote:

    Don't forget the Fusion can't match a Camry or Accord at resale time just like a Lincoln MKZ cannot even come close to matching the resale value of a Lexus ES350.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 4:15 PM, dwurst wrote:

    I have owned too many GMs and none of them have ever held a candle to my Toyota Sequoia and while I think Ford is way ahead of GM, I dont think the Camry will be beatout. I now own my 2nd Toyota truck because of the poor workmanship I have seen with my past Suburbans and Equinox. Never again GM. Plus Toyota is also a non-union shop, not like Obozo Motors.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 4:39 PM, wings12 wrote:

    It doesn't surprise me that you are on your 2nd Toyota truck. My uncle bought one and the frame rusted out. He then found out from the dealer that Toyota Tundra frames had been rusting out and some trucks had broken in half. Toyota later issued a massive recall. That is poor quality.....

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 7:19 PM, JoeyToronto wrote:

    Fusions are very reliable and good cars. I've had my 2011 for almost 2 years and not one problem yet. This is my first car, never had the need for one since I live in the city, but Ford was not on my list. But I bought one after renting one for 2 weeks. It drives amazing, love the steering, it's quiet, the engine is okay, agile, predictable and built good. I want to trade it in for the 2013 only because I like the new styling. Otherwise people are asking why I want to sell it, even Ford dealerships are asking why. I get bored easily. And consumer reports gave the same grade 76 points as the new Fusion, so really what improved? Nothing besides the styling.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 1:59 AM, MilnerOQuinnFord wrote:

    ford always being reliable for americans and about to say ford fusion this gas-powered and hybrid model deliver plenty of performance with an Impressive fuel efficiency. I think ford's fusion can easily knock off the camry.

  • Report this Comment On July 30, 2014, at 11:32 AM, JoeCool0425 wrote:

    Is the Fusion built only in the USA now or is it split between USA and Mexico. I am Googling but not finding any definitive recent information saying exactly where it is being built. Found an article from July 2014 saying that it is built in Mexico, and doesn't mention any being built in USA. I'm a Honda guy buy would like to go domestic, but if I'm going to do that it won't be with a car built outside the USA.

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