The second-largest U.S. automaker is debuting three television commercials for its best-selling car, Ford said in a statement. In one spot, other cars on the road become invisible as the Fusion drives by. In another, a Fusion drives off a cliff to show “the one thing” the car can’t do, Ford said. The third shows Fusion moving forward while other cars back up.
The ads “will showcase how Ford is shaking up the bland mid-size sedan segment,” Jim Farley, the company’s global marketing chief, said in the statement.
Ford is counting on the redesigned Fusion to challenge Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Camry, the perennial top-selling car in the U.S. Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford has loaded new technology into the 2013 Fusion, which went on sale last month, and will stress that its hybrid version gets 47 miles (76 kilometers) per gallon, more than the Camry hybrid.
“Fusion last year set a sales record and with this new family of vehicles, we believe we can build on that success,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally told reporters after introducing the new Fusion at the Detroit auto show in January. “I think we really will be preferred in that” mid-size car segment.
The new Fusion ads will air on prime-time network programming and sporting events, the company said. Ford didn’t say how much it’s spending on Fusion advertising.
Fusion sales fell 30 percent in the U.S. last month to 12,690 vehicles. So far this year, Fusion sales are up 0.2 percent to 206,855, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
Toyota sold 344,714 Camry models in the U.S. this year through October, up 37 percent, Autodata said. Camry sales rose 36 percent last month to 29,926 vehicles, according to Autodata.
Fusion sales fell last month because Ford has only about 25 percent of the inventory it needs to meet demand, Amy Marentic, group marketing manager, told reporters in Dearborn today. The company hopes to have full inventory by December, she said. Fusion models are staying on dealer lots an average of nine days before they are sold, a fast turn rate, she said.
“We’re still building up inventory,” Marentic said following a media briefing on the new ads. “We have about 9,000 of the new ones in inventory.”
When Ford adds a shift of Fusion production at a Michigan factory next year, the automaker will have the capacity to build 400,000 models a year, Marentic said. Last year, Ford sold a record 248,067 Fusions in the U.S.
A smooth introduction for the Fusion might help Ford rebound from technology glitches that have lowered the automaker’s quality scores.
Ford’s MyFord Touch dashboard computer touch screens have been criticized for performing poorly and distracting drivers. Ford’s namesake brand fell seven spots to second-to-last place in Consumer Reports’ annual auto-reliability survey, the magazine said last month. The Ford brand fell to 27th this year in Westlake Village, California-based J.D. Power & Associates’ new-car quality survey, from fifth two years ago.
Ford in March sent a software upgrade to 377,000 customers with the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch dashboard controls. The upgrade, which included faster touch responses, simpler graphics, enhanced voice recognition and better phone controls, didn’t arrive in time to improve this year’s J.D. Power scores.
The Fusion has the latest version of MyFord Touch, and the automaker has added regular control knobs for radio volume and tuning and for heat and air conditioning.
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