DETROIT -- In introducing the 2013 Ford Fusion mid-sized sedan at the Detroit auto show, Ford fired a blistering shot right across the bow of its competitors: the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
As suspenseful, digital music thrummed in a darkened auditorium at Joe Louis Arena just prior to the unveiling of the Fusion to hundreds of global reporters, a man's voice reminded a roomful of journalists about the recent woes of the Camry and Accord, traditionally the top-selling mid-sized sedans in the U.S.
For most of the past decade, the voice intoned, the two stood above all others in providing customers in the segment what they most valued: reliability and affordability, garnering 15 to 20 percent of the market each.
"And then something changed," the voice said. "Their sales volumes and market share leveled off in 2008. When the recession hit, they plummeted along with the rest of the industry. What you might not realize is that Camry and Accord never recovered. They saw further sales and share losses more than a year before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Camry sales in 2010 dipped 31 percent from their 2007 peak. Accord sales dropped 28 percent during the same period. This slide has continued even with triple-digit increases in incentive spending. What's driving this?"