Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)‘s new Fusion sedan has been turning heads since its launch late last year. It’s easy to see why: With its sleek flanks, Aston Martin-inspired grille, and luxury-car-like interior, it really stands out in a sea of blander-looking competitors.
And lately, it’s been drawing quite a few customers. For the year to date through March, sales were up 26% over the first three months of 2012, as the new Fusion continues to outshine its well-regarded predecessor.
But will the Fusion have what it takes to overcome America’s best-selling car, Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)‘s ever-popular Camry?
Rapidly rising on the U.S. sales charts
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) already has America’s best-selling vehicle, of course. Its F-Series pickup trucks have been the best-seller for decades, followed by the perennial runner-up, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)‘ Chevy Silverado pickup.
That’s unlikely to change, because pickups are big business here in America. But it’s after those two that the sales race gets interesting. So far in 2013, the next four biggest sellers are all midsized sedans: the Camry, Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC)‘s Accord, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (ADR) (PINK:NSANY)‘s Altima – and Ford’s new Fusion.
The Fusion isn’t far behind the Altima, with 80,558 sales through March to the Nissan’s 86,952. But it has a ways to go to catch up to the Camry, which sold 100,830 through the first three months of the year.
Camry sales look strong, but they have been down 4% so far in 2013, thanks in part to the strength of the new Fusion. Does Ford’s hot-looking sedan have a chance of catching up and dethroning the Camry?
Probably not, at least in the near term. Here’s why.
Why Ford can’t (yet) beat the Camry
Here’s the problem: Ford’s can’t (yet) make enough Fusions to outsell the Camry. The company cut its North American production facilities way back during its painful restructuring last decade. That was a good move, one that has led to strong profits now that many of its factories are working overtime.