Ford dealers may be getting their wish.
Despite plans to kill the Fusion midsize car in the U.S. in the coming years, Ford Motor Co. will keep the Fusion name alive. It just won't be used on a sedan anymore.
"We'll likely continue to use the name because of its awareness, positive imagery and value with consumers," Ford spokesman Mike Levine said in a statement provided to Automotive News. Levine declined to say when the vehicle could debut or what it might look like.
Ford intends to use the Fusion name for a sport wagon to rival the Subaru Outback, according to a report last week from Bloomberg. The report, citing unnamed sources, comes about a month after Ford dealers implored management during an annual gathering in Florida to keep the Fusion name, which it started using in 2005.
The move mirrors what Ford plans for the Focus: U.S. production ended this year, but a Focus Active wagon is slated to be imported from China starting in 2019. It also would be similar to what rival General Motors has done with the Europe-made Buick Regal, replacing its sedan body style with a wagon called the TourX and a fastback version.
"We're going to have products that are new silhouettes that blur the lines between what you think of as a sedan today and a crossover today," Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told Automotive News last month.
Fusion sales peaked at 306,860 in 2014, according to the Automotive News Data Center. They've fallen every year since, hitting 209,623 in 2017.
Ford sells a wagon version of the Mondeo, which is nearly identical to the Fusion, in Europe that could form the basis for a midsize sport wagon in the U.S. Here, Ford hasn't marketed a wagon under the Ford brand since production of the Taurus X ended in 2009, though the Flex crossover has some attributes of a wagon.
Although Ford gave specific end dates for production of the Focus, Taurus and Fiesta sedans, the company has been vague about the Fusion, saying only that it would live on for the next few years. The fact that it didn't initially list the Fusion as shifting to a wagon style along with the Focus suggests that plans for the nameplate have changed since the April announcement.
"They were canceling it originally, but then they were like, 'No, we're not canceling it,' " John Murphy, an analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which publishes the closely watched "Car Wars" report on future product plans for major automakers, told Bloomberg.
A sport wagon similar to the Subaru Outback would thrust Ford into a fast-growing and competitive segment of the market. With sales up 5.5 percent this year, the Outback is Subaru's top-selling model and wins kudos for its practicality, dependability and fuel economy.