Carrying the title of official car of CES on its shoulders, Ford President and CEO, Alan Mullaly revealed the company’s new Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid today at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.
The new 2013 Fusion Energi belongs to Ford’s Fleet of Fusions that also includes standard and hybrid versions. Along with being Ford’s cleanest and most energy efficient of its three Fusions, the plug-in hybrid is also Ford’s most tech focused and laden vehicle to date.
Ford is certainly claiming some impressive numbers with its new mid-size plug-in hybrid. The Fusion Energi is said to achieve average MPGe ratings of “over 100”, but exact figures haven’t been released yet. Mullaly was eager to point out how Ford has been at the vanguard of car and smartphone connectivity and pointed out how the Fusion would carry on that mission with full Ford SYNC integration and smart device controls.
While the 2013 Fusion received a modestly warm welcome today, it’s yet to be seen whether consumers, not show attendees, will be won over by the very latest from Ford when it rolls out later this year. Ford is hoping that its redesigned Fusion can help it to catch up to the Camry which it is still behind in sales by 60k for the most popular midsize sedans. The original Fusion has been a success story since entering the market in 2005 and it topped the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata last year with sales of 250,000.
Ford also unveiled the new Fusion on Monday at the Detroit auto show. New revisions have removed the shuttered grille, replaced by a more aggressive diamond-shaped one. The new version also borrows the chiseled, aerodynamic look of Ford’s other new cars, the Fiesta and Focus.
In the past, Ford would make different versions of a car for different regions of the world, spending millions more on development. But the 2013 Ford Fusion will be sold globally, so Ford canvassed customers worldwide before deciding on the final design. The company changed its original headlight, for example, after Chinese customers found it too sinister.
2013 Ford Fusion
As for the motor, Ford will be offering several types of Fusions, including a hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Ford expects the hybrid to get 47 miles per gallon in city driving, while the Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid which runs for a longer time on the battery alone, should get the equivalent of more than 100 miles per gallon. A 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine with Ford’s EcoBoost system will get 37 mpg on the highway, while a 2.0-liter EcoBoost will be offered in a performance version.
Ford’s base engine, a 1.6-liter I-4, will be the first Ford with an automatic stop-start system that shuts off the power when the car stops and restarts it when the driver releases the brake pedal, reducing fuel consumption. It’s expected to get slightly better fuel economy than the current Fusion, which gets 33 mpg on the highway.
As for the new design of the car, Ford wanted the 2013 model to have a premium feel, so it even took the extra — and more expensive — step of embedding the Ford badge in the hood instead of attaching it to the grille. Ford designer Chris Hamilton described the look of the current Fusion as “slightly cold.” Of the new Fusion, he says, “we wanted that feeling of the surfaces being worked on by hand.”
As for the inside, the 2013 model gives you more rear-leg room thanks to thinner seats up front. Ford says it has used better, softer materials. Among the options are Ford’s Sync voice-controlled entertainment system and its My Ford Touch dashboard screen.
As for some of the additional options you can choose from, Ford will be the only car in its class with a lane-keeping system, which uses cameras to monitor whether a driver is staying in his lane and alerts him if he swerves off course. It will also have a system that parallel parks the car automatically, a blind-spot warning system and a cross-traffic alert which monitors oncoming traffic when the car is backing out of a parking space.
As for the price, it has not yet been revealed, however, Ford Americas President Mark Fields said on Monday at the Detroit Auto Show that it will have a base price close to the current Fusion, which starts at $20,200.
As for the raves for the new version, analysts were wowed by the design at a preview last month. The Fusion is likely to follow the success of other recent Ford redesigns, including the hot-selling Ford Explorer SUV.
As for some of the rants about it, there seems to be some concern among analysts that Ford will price it too high, especially as buyers pile on the options. The new Ford Focus compact car has seen sluggish sales this year, in part because dealers were stocked with high-end versions that cost even more than the 2013 Ford Fusion.