DETROIT -- After overhauling the Ford F-150 pickup, Ford Motor Co. is updating its highest-volume car and crossover this year.
The freshened Fusion and Escape will be key to Ford's ability to gain market share in what's expected to be a second consecutive year of record U.S. sales for the industry. Both nameplates topped 300,000 units in 2015, combining to account for nearly a quarter of the Ford brand's total U.S. volume.
But despite getting new engines, interiors and technology, both face significant challenges. The Fusion arrives amid slowing demand for sedans, and the Escape has been hampered by production constraints.
In 2015, sales of the Escape rose just 280 units, or 0.1 percent, from the previous year. The rest of the red-hot compact crossover segment surged 15 percent, with 10 of the top 15 sellers growing by double digits.
"We were limited in how aggressive we could be, given the capacity, but we sold everything we produced," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, told Automotive News. "We'll lose a little bit of production in the ramp-up of the new one, but I think we'll be in good shape for Escape sales this year."