New reports surfaced on Wednesday claiming Ford is planning to concentrate production of the next-generation Fusion mid-size sedan in China.
The current Fusion is produced at plants in Spain, Mexico and China. However, Automotive News (subscription required) and Reuters have learned from their respective sources that production of the next-generation Fusion, due in 2020, will take place exclusively in China.
The Spanish plant is safe as Ford in November said it will spend $887 million at the site to produce the next-generation Kuga, Europe's version of the Escape compact SUV.
It’s not clear what Ford has in store for the Mexican plant, which also produces the Lincoln MKZ. This month we learned that Ford will produce its planned electric SUV in Mexico starting in 2020, though this model is expected to be produced at a separate Mexican plant to the Fusion and MKZ plant.
When pushed for comment, Ford told Reuters that there are no plans to export a next-generation Fusion from China to either the United States or Europe, where the car is labeled a Mondeo, and that information on the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo will be announced at a later date.
If the reports are accurate, it may mean Ford plans to exit the mid-size sedan segment in North America or replace the Fusion with a new model. Sales of the current car are down 22 percent in the United States through November, highlighting the general decline in the market for passenger car sales.
Ford in a new strategy outlined in October said there will be fewer nameplates in the future, though the automaker didn’t say which current nameplates would be axed. The move is part of the automaker’s reaction to the consumer shift to SUVs, pickup trucks and electric cars, which the automaker sees as permanent.
Production locations remains a thorny issue for Ford which last year was criticized by President Donald Trump for proposing to move production of the Focus compact from Michigan to Mexico. The hubbub led to Ford confirming production of a new Ranger and Bronco in Michigan to fill the void of the Focus. The automaker has since confirmed that production of the Focus will take place in China instead of Mexico, and that the Chinese-made cars will be exported to the U.S.
Stay tuned for an update.