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Ford dismisses Fusion turbo V6, Mondeo name swap

Fast Ford: The hot V6-powered version of the Fusion (Mondeo) is unlikely to get a run in Australia.

No fast Falcon successor on Ford horizon as Mondeo maintains focus

30 Nov 2016

FORD Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman has blamed low large car demand for the decision not to import the twin-turbo V6 all-wheel drive Fusion, despite the admission that Falcon XR6 Turbo fanatics could be drawn in by the performance sedan.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Everest 4x2 in Melbourne this week, Mr Whickman said there were “no plans” to swap the European Mondeo nameplate for its US Fusion twin, despite the precedent set by replacing the Euro Kuga medium SUV nameplate with the US-based Escape.

While the Spanish-built Mondeo is only available in front-wheel drive petrol or diesel four-cylinder guise with a maximum 177kW of power and 400Nm of torque, the US-made Fusion comes with a 242kW/475Nm 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 hot on the heels of the discontinued 270kW/533Nm 4.0-litre turbo Falcon.

Asked whether Falcon XR6 Turbo fans could have been interested in such a vehicle, Mr Whickman replied: “They may have an interest, but at the same time we’re looking at our line-ups and making sure the complexity isn’t too much.”“I understand it (Mondeo) is not a V6, it’s an I4 (inline four-cylinder), and maybe that’s something (a performance version) that they are searching for. If they want to go there maybe they’ll go to Mustang.”

Mr Whickman admitted renaming the Mondeo the Fusion would be available to Ford Australia if it pursued to the opportunity, however “it is not something we’ve thought our way through (but) it does represent an opportunity if we felt it was important.” Of the case for the twin-turbo version, he added: “For us a Mondeo has historically been such a small volume car (so) it’s a tough business proposition, and you have to make sure you have the demand to support the business proposition, and the demand is quite small.

“As opposed to the Mustang where we will be number one or two in the world for right-hand drive (sales) in the world.”

Despite a record 36 per cent of current Holden Commodore sales favouring V8-powered variants, which are not set for direct replacement from late next year, Mr Whickman refused to be drawn into suggestions that a performance Fusion could be a popular addition in this market.

With the large car segment currently representing 3.4 per cent of total market sales (according to VFACTS October 2016 figures) and with Commodore the only dominant player, Mr Whickman said the V8 versions would represent “one-third potentially of that segment, at most, so 1.0 per cent.”“Think about the viability,” he added.

“The Mondeo is (playing in) about 7.0 or so per cent (the medium segment share of total market).”

As for Ford Australia’s decision to replace Kuga with Escape, but not Mondeo with Fusion, Mr Whickman said: “Theoretically we have the choice (between Mondeo and Fusion) but we are investing a lot in Mondeo right now and have been for the last 10 or 11 months, so it wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do to change nomenclature.

“My belief is we can do a better job with building Mondeo perception in the market than change its name,” he continued.

“(Kuga) pre-dates me in this market, so it’s been three or four years. I wouldn’t say it was a mistake, it’s just an evolution. The levels of investment if you took the last 12 months, I would say the Mondeo is far greater (than Kuga) in terms of index of investment.”

Mr Whickman said one of the primary reasons for the Kuga-to-Escape name change was to align all SUV models to start with the letter ‘E’ – including EcoSport, Everest, and hopefully the Edge (see separate story). However, Ford did not have an “overarching” naming strategy for its passenger cars, he said.

The Mondeo has grown its share of the medium sub-$60K passenger car segment from 4.2 per cent (year-to-date October 2015) to 6.4 per cent (year-to-date October 2016) with sales increasing from 1675 to 2507 units over that period – an increase of 49.8 per cent.

However, it still remains behind the all-conquering Toyota Camry (18,678 sales with 47.5 per cent share), the Mazda6 (3635, 9.2 per cent) and Subaru Liberty (2937, 7.5 per cent). But Mr Whickman maintained the brand was not out to chase sales nor rapidly fill the 4150-unit void the Falcon has left this year.

“We’ve been trying to communicate Mondeo and the quality of that vehicle for a little while,” he said.

“It’s always nice to do more volume but you want to do it in the right way at the same time, so you could go out there and I’m sure we could find a lot of homes for Mondeo if we were willing to spend a lot of money.

“But we want to grow our business in a way that I think has got some decent integrity to it.”

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