Ford claims that its new Fusion hybrid, when it hits markets this spring, will be “America’s most fuel efficient mid-size car,” with a government mileage rating of 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
Compared to other partially-electrified family sedans (the Toyota Camry hybrid, 33 city/34 highway; the Nissan Altima hybrid, 35 city/33 highway; and the 2009 Chevy Malibu hybrid, 26 city/34 highway), the Fusion is, in fact, more fuel efficient.
But the Toyota Prius – with a much higher fuel efficiency of 48 city/45 highway is considered to be a mid-size car by the EPA, and it plans to unveil an bigger, even more fuel efficient Prius at a Detroit auto show next week.
Ford may also have trouble backing up claims that it is an American car because the Fusion is actually assembled in Mexico.
More importantly, the new hybrid is coming at a terrible time for the market: With gas prices so low, potential buyers are hesitating to pay a premium for a hybrid car that will take years to recover at the fuel pump – barring a sharp increase in prices, writes the Wall Street Journal.
Other problems, like significantly poor fuel efficiency in cold weather conditions, will challenge Ford in convincing consumers of the Fusion’s benefits. But for Ford, it is more important to build the company’s image as a fuel efficient car maker than high sales volume or profits, the Journal said.
Real sales of hybrid Fusions and Mercury Milan sedans are expected to run at just 10-15 percent of total production, said Jim Farley, VP of marketing and communications.