Ford will launch its Fusion with discount
Automaker plans 3.9% rate for car
BY SARAH A. WEBSTER
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Photo from Autoindex
2006 Ford Fusion
Ford Motor Co. will launch its most important car since the Ford Taurus -- the 2006 Ford Fusion -- with incentives in September, a top company executive said Friday.
"It will have an incentive," said Steve Lyons, group vice president of sales, marketing and service at Ford.
While Lyons said he didn't expect the Fusion will be launched with a cash-back rebate, he did say it would likely be sold with a discounted interest rate of 3.9%.
There also will be a program on the Fusion that will match a customer's down payment up to $500 and another $500 in bonus cash for customers who finance the vehicle through Ford Credit, said Ford spokesman Jim Cain.
The 2006 Ford Fusion starts at $17,795, and the potential discounts bring the price down $1,000.
The midsize Fusion sedan replaces the Ford Contour, which was phased out in 2001, and to some extent the larger Ford Taurus.
As such, it is viewed within Ford as the most important car launch in years and it will be a direct challenger to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, two of the most popular sedans in America. Consumers purchased 813,760 of those two vehicles in the United States last year.
"It's the car equivalent of the F-150," Lyons said, comparing the Fusion to the company's popular pickup truck, which is the best-selling vehicle in the country. Consumers purchased 534,659 F-150s through July this year, about 4.2% more than last year.
Robert Hinchliffe, an automotive analyst for UBS Inc. in New York, said the discounts on the Fusion were probably necessary because of employee pricing in the market. Employee pricing on the Ford Five Hundred large sedan pushes the price within just $2,200 of the Fusion's base price. The Five Hundred starts at $22,840 but is now selling at $19,995 under the Ford Family Plan.
"With employee pricing pushing the price of the Five Hundred down, I think it probably pushes the price folks are willing to pay for the smaller vehicle down as well," Hinchliffe said.
Ford has not decided whether to extend its employee pricing beyond the Sept. 6 end date.