The Ford Fusion won significant import conquest sales in February, aided by Toyota's recall crisis and a $1,000 rebate for owners of Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles.
Edmunds.com says about 18 percent of Fusion trade-ins in February were Hondas or Toyotas. That compares with about 5 percent in February 2009 and 7 percent in January 2010.
The Toyota Motor Corp. recall of more than 8 million vehicles gives Ford Motor Co. an opportunity to make headway in small cars against imports. The timing is important because the redesigned Focus and new Fiesta small cars are due this year.
Conquest is "a slow and steady process," said Jonathan Richards, Ford's Fusion marketing manager. Ford sold 16,459 Fusions in February, compared with 7,603 a year earlier. Results were boosted by the addition of the Fusion Hybrid about a year ago, when the nameplate was restyled and re-engineered.
Also helping Ford's February Fusion sales was an incentive that ran Jan. 28 through March 1, said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com. Ford offered owners of Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles $1,000 to buy or lease a new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle.
Ford's Richards plans to promote positive Fusion reviews from independent third parties in advertising.
"Customers in that segment do view third-party opinions, whether it's Consumer Reports or Automotive News," Richards said. "They view these as a value."