LOS ANGELES -- Ford Motor Co. expects its new Fusion sedan to take on the mid-sized segment leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
But Ford executives aren't counting on winning over a big chunk of Camry and Accord customers. Instead, the Fusion will enable Ford to retain its own buyers, says Steve Lyons, group vice president of North American marketing, sales and service.
Each year, 20,000 drivers trade in their Mustangs to buy a mid-sized car, and "none of them buy a Ford," Lyons said at a press event here.
And 20 percent of consumers who have an F-150 pickup or an Explorer SUV also own a competitor's mid-sized car, he added.
Ford executives are under the gun because of falling market share and mounting losses in the company's North American auto business. They are counting on the Fusion to arrest that decline.
"This is arguably the most important car launch for Ford since the Taurus in 1985," Lyons said. "Fusion is the centerpiece, and we've got to get this right."