DETROIT — With U.S. sales of more than 1.6 million this year, the midsize family sedan is by no means dead. But rather than idly watching to see if the end happens, Ford Motor Co. is preparing to halt North American production of its top-selling car in this country, the Fusion.
The automaker told suppliers last week that it was canceling plans to build the next-generation Fusion, starting in 2020, at the plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, that makes the current version of the car, sources with knowledge of the discussions told Automotive News. It's unclear whether Ford would stop selling the Fusion in the U.S., replace it with a different vehicle or build it elsewhere. A Ford spokesman declined to comment.
The move would be in line with Ford and other automakers' pivot toward utility vehicles to capitalize on shifting consumer demand and prioritize more profitable vehicles amid plateauing U.S. sales. Although some outliers, such as Toyota and Volkswagen, continue to invest in sedans, other automakers are offshoring production or dropping nameplates.
In the U.S., Ford plans to add five crossover nameplates by 2020, while most of its mass-market cars are being pushed aside. The Fiesta, built in Mexico, likely will be discontinued here sometime after the EcoSport small crossover arrives in 2018. Focus production is shifting from Michigan to China; C-Max output ends next year; and Ford is expected to kill the U.S. version of the Taurus.
Ford's moves come after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stopped making the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart and General Motors' Buick brand axed the U.S. version of its Verano compact last year.
The Fusion would be the highest-volume car to go out of production in North America as a result of the crossover boom, marking a dramatic twist in the life of a nameplate that was key to Ford's turnaround after the recession nearly a decade ago. As recently as last year, Ford was building the Fusion in both Michigan and Mexico to meet demand.