BRADFORD WERNLE

There are limits to Ford's 'Power of Choice'

Automotive News | April 13, 2012 - 4:12 pm EST

Bradford Wernle covers Ford for Automotive News
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A reader wrote us a hopeful note this week, saying he had recently spotted what appeared to be a station wagon version of the 2013 Ford Fusion being driven in suburban Detroit. He wondered whether Ford would sell a wagon version of the Fusion in America.

The answer is a firm “No.”

What the reader probably saw was a developmental prototype of the Mondeo, the European version of the Fusion. Under CEO Alan Mulally’s One Ford global product development system, much of the development work on the Mondeo and the Fusion has taken place on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Fusion goes on sale this summer, while the Mondeo goes on sale in Europe later.

U.S. buyers will get only one Fusion body style: a four-door sedan. European customers will have a choice of three Mondeo body styles: sedan, station wagon and five-door hatchback.

Ford believes that U.S. customers who want more flexible storage space will choose one of its crossovers -- such as the Escape, Edge or Explorer -- or a smaller car, such as a Focus hatchback.

What’s interesting is that Ford also sells the Kuga crossover -- the twin of the North American Escape -- in Europe.

European motorists do not share their North American counterparts’ apparent prejudices against station wagons and hatchbacks. It is customary for volume carmakers to offer multiple body styles off major platforms.

Ford offers no fewer than five powertrains in the 2013 Fusion, including two EcoBoost engines, a gasoline-electric unit and plug-in hybrid. Ford believes it can trump its competitors with more “Power of Choice,” at least on the powertrain front.

But for buyers who prefer a carlike driving orientation without sacrificing cargo-carrying capacity or fuel economy, a hatchback or wagon is a better option than a higher-riding, bulkier and thirstier crossover or SUV.

When it comes to body styles, Ford’s Power of Choice has its limits.

U.S. buyers will be able to choose only one Fusion body style: a four-door sedan. European customers will have a choice of three Mondeo body styles: sedan, station wagon and five-door hatchback.

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