Ford Wants to Take on Subaru With a Sport Wagon Named Fusion
The Fusion nameplate appears to have a lot of emotional equity with consumersby Kirby Garlitos, on
The Ford Fusion sedan is not long for this world, but just as the sedan is set to be axed in the coming years, the “Fusion” nameplate will live on in another form. Word has it that Ford is looking to use the name on a high-roofed sport wagon that the company is developing to compete against the Subaru Outback. There’s no timetable on when the Fusion Sport Wagon is going to arrive but look for its debut to happen shortly after the Fusion sedan gets the heave-ho from Ford early next decade.
The Fusion name will live on long after the once-popular sedan gets sent to the retirement home
The mass exodus of Ford’s entire sedan lineup in the U.S. in the coming years may have been brought on by the company’s decision to go all-in on the crossover and SUV markets, but it does appear that the automaker is now walking back on that announcement — sort of. The plan still has the green light from Ford bigwigs, but now, presumably out of fear that its customers will deflect to its rivals, the Blue Oval will still offer a handful of models that technically don’t qualify as crossovers and SUVs. The Fusion Sport Wagon appears to be one of those models.
But why was it important for Ford to keep the Fusion name? Why not just come up with a new name for the planned sport wagon? Well, according to Bloomberg, dealerships have pushed to retain the Fusion name, in large part because it has built a strong connection with Ford’s customer base. Rhett Ricart, one of Ford’s top dealers, believes that there remains a lot of value in the Fusion name, in large part because Ford “spent hundreds of millions of dollars for brand equity in that Fusion name — not $10 million or $20 million — but hundreds of millions.”
“The smart thing is to play on that brand equity,” Ricart added.
So it looks like Ford is listening to its dealers. The Fusion name will live on long after the once-popular sedan gets sent to the retirement home. This time, Ford plans to use the nameplate on a sport wagon in hopes of capitalizing on the dearth of wagons in the U.S. At the moment, there are precious few automakers that offer such a model. Subaru is one of those companies, and it has reaped plenty of success with the Outback because there aren’t that many alternatives at the Outback’s price point in the segment. A Ford Fusion Sport Wagon could change that narrative quickly, and if it becomes a hot-selling model, it could reignite the sport wagon segment to the point that it makes a dramatic comeback in the U.S. market. In a roundabout way, the death of the sedan market could lead to the resurrection of the wagon market.
If Ford wants to keep these customers, retaining the Fusion name and using it on a sport wagon could be one way to do it.
Of course, all of this is speculation at this point. Customer retention is of paramount importance to Ford, and according to Autotrader senior analyst, Michelle Krebs, it’s having a hard time moving its customers from their cars to SUVs. It doesn’t help that a trade-in analysis by Kelley Blue Book discovered that less than half of Ford Fusion owners are loyal to the brand. If Ford wants to keep these customers, retaining the Fusion name and using it on a sport wagon could be one way to do it.
Whether that succeeds or not remains to be seen, but judging by the popularity and emotional attachment people have with the Fusion name, it doesn’t hurt Ford’s chances in keeping the name around. All it has to do is use it in a way that doesn’t ruin the name’s emotional equity among its fans.
Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Fusion.
Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Fusion.
Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru Outback.
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