Some Dealers Fear Buzz about 2013 Ford Fusion Energi Could Hurt Sales of 2012 Models

Last month Ford Motor Company debuted its 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, to rave reviews. But all of the buzz about the new model may be creating problems for Ford dealers trying to move their inventories of 2012 Fusion Hybrids.

Vandalia, Ohio Ford dealer Larry Taylor says a customer recently walked into his dealership and asked to see a Fusion Hybrid. When Taylor escorted him to one of the 2012 models in his inventory, the customer said, “I want the one that gets more than 90 miles to the gallon.” When Taylor explained that the Fusion Energi won’t be available until this fall, the customer left without making a purchase.

Taylor said he is happy about all the interest in the new Fusion Energi. The problem is he still has about 80 2012 Fusion Hybrids on his lot.

Taylor admits, “I’m kind of worried about it,” and says that in his capacity as a member of Ford’s dealer council, he tried to warn the company about the potential downside of promoting the Energi this far in advance of its launch date, sometime this fall. “I warned them about pre-advertising and promoting things we don’t have,” said Taylor. “Ford has had a problem building up things that aren’t on sale yet.”

Ford says the first 2013 Fusion’s to be delivered to dealers will be equipped with either the 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine. Sometime after that, Ford will begin shipping the first of its two hybrid variants, equipped with a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. Sometime later, Ford will begin delivering the Energi gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid variant which reportedly delivers the equivalent of 100 mpg.

Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service Ken Czubay said he expects the Energi to begin arriving on dealer lots as soon as October.

Unlike Taylor, Kevin Collins who owns Bill Collins Ford in Louisville, Kentucky, thinks there’s still a market for the 2012 Fusion Hybrid which he says he’s still placing wholesale orders for. Last year Ford sold 284,067 Fusions in the U.S. and he expects demand for the current model to remain strong.

He also admits that some customers will undoubtedly hold off on making their purchases until more information about the 2013 powertrain options and pricing is made available. Ford has not yet announced prices for its 2013 Fusion models.

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