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Ford Previews Fleet Vehicles for 2012 and Beyond

Ford’s West Coast headquarters welcomed fleet customers to show off the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion, discuss hybrid, electric and EcoBoost engine technologies, update plans for the Lincoln brand and talk about Ford’s residual value strategy.

The 2013-MY Ford Fusion
The 2013-MY Ford Fusion

The Ford fleet gang was at Ford’s West Coast headquarters last week to show off some new product and to talk strategy.

As such, I pass along my notes, information and thoughts to you. Much of the product info is already out there, and we didn’t get to drive anything, but it’s always good to get a manufacturer’s update focused on fleet, all under one roof. John Ruppert, general manager, commercial and government operations and Gerry Koss, fleet marketing manager were on hand to show and tell.

Product-wise — and fleet importance wise — the big news is the 2013 Fusion, of which Ford had a pre-production model on display. The first thing that grabs you about the new Fusion is its longer, wider stance combined with a faster, sportier look. The narrow headlights and razor-like grille state “this is not your vanilla mid-size sedan.” The Fusion, Ford’s best-selling fleet car, has been evolving into the “fun to drive” category ever since its introduction in the 2006 model year.

Fusion buyers will have a choice of three powerplants (the naturally aspirated 2.5L i-VCT I-4, turbocharged 1.6L EcoBoost I-4 and turbocharged 2.0L EcoBoost I-4) as well as hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. The 1.6L EcoBoost engine takes advantage of auto start/stop technology, which shuts off the engine at stationary idle.

The 2013-MY Ford Fusion
The 2013-MY Ford Fusion

The new Fusion hybrid will make some serious noise in the market, but not on the road: Ford’s all-new hybrid powerplant can go up to 62 mpg on electric only, and is targeted at 47/44 mpg city/hwy.

Ford says the Fusion “Energi” (Ford’s name for its plug-in hybrids or PHEVs) is expected to be the most fuel efficient mid-size car in the world, delivering more than 100 mpg equivalent.

The 2013 Ford Focus Electric is also certified at a 110 mpg equivalent city rating, and with a 240v charging station, the all-electric Focus is supposed to charge in half the time of the competition, according to Ford.

The trend with safety technology is a migration from luxury car to the mass-market sedans. And so Ford offers its “lane keeping assist” option on the Fusion and other models such as the 2013 Explorer. Lane keeping assist can be described as something like your spouse in the passenger seat making sure you stay awake, though in actuality, it’s a digital imaging system that detects lane markings determining if you’re straying from your lane. If so, the system issues a series of progressive alerts and, if needed, it will “nudge” you back into your lane.

I’m looking forward to driving the new Fusion to put the EcoBoost (direct-injection, turbocharged) engines to the test. The new Fusion doesn’t get a six-cylinder engine, but Ford maintains the 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 will perform just as well or better, and kills on fuel economy. In 2011 some 40% of all Ford F-Series had an Ecoboost engine, making it the No. 1 engine choice. That percentage will grow.

Talk about how far we’ve come: The 2006-MY Ford Fusion had a standard four-cylinder, 160 hp engine that delivered 20/28 mpg. Ford’s new 1.6L EcoBoost engine — the fleet leader in Fusion — is expected to achieve 26/37 mpg. Moving up the ladder, Ford’s new 2.0L EcoBoost, offered in the 2013 Taurus, churns out 237 hp and still gets 31 mpg/hwy. With all the talk of electric power, automakers are still wringing more and more efficiency out of the humble internal combustion engine. 

By the way, Ford is looking to increase its average fuel economy by 35% by 2015 from a 2010 baseline. That seems like a tall order, as we’re already upon the 2013 model year, but Ford already has four models that top 40 mpg/hwy. Ford’s new religion when it comes to cars — not just trucks and SUVs — should help get them there.

CONTINUED:  Ford Previews Fleet Vehicles for 2012 and Beyond
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Author Bio

Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News. He covers all aspects of the fleet world.

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