Excitement over Ford's bold new Fusion is going to boil over into the
aftermarket realm when six customized sedans are unveiled at the
Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. SEMA is the
premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world.
"The 2006 Ford Fusion stands out from other mid-size sedans with its bold design cues, stance and strong sense of direction," said Melvin Betancourt, design manager, Ford Vehicle Personalization. "With the addition of some aftermarket 'tuning,' you have a recipe for one hot sports sedan."
And that's one recipe Ford is very eager to put to the test. Vehicle customization is a $31 billion business, and Ford wants consumers to know that Fusion is a great base ingredient.
"Sport compacts and SUVs have been the trend in customization lately, but I think it's about time for all that to change," said Jyarland Jones, Fusion brand manager. "Just as Fusion is a game changer in the mid-size sedan segment, I think these SEMA Fusions will spark interest in a new trend."
Ernie Bunnell agrees.
Bunnell is the vice president of Sales and Marketing for 3D Carbon in Newport Beach, California, one of the six top aftermarket design and performance firms that customized Fusion for SEMA.
"We were very excited when we first saw the car because it's got some great lines on it, and it leaves itself open for some nice styling cues from companies like ours," said Bunnell.
The 3D Carbon team designed a complete Euro Series body kit for Fusion that includes a front air dam that attaches to the front Ford factory fascia, side skirts, a rear lower skirt and two different rear spoilers – one on the deck lid and one on the upper roof wing.
"Everyone who's seen the car – even the tow truck driver that moved the vehicle around for us – asked, 'What is that?'" said Bunnell. "People were surprised to learn that Fusion is a Ford because they think it looks a lot like a European car."
In addition to exterior styling, Fusion offers a great platform for modification in both powertrain and chassis for the performance market. Some of the SEMA Fusions, in addition to sporting a unique look, have engines enhanced with turbochargers or upgraded suspensions.
According to Warren Nally, supervisor, Aftermarket and Special Vehicle Team Planning, Fusion has all the right ingredients to make it a winner at SEMA.
"It has a great design, and it's a car that people are really excited about," he said. "In the past, the focus at SEMA has been on the Mustang and Focus on the car side and F-150 and Super Duty on the truck side. We see the attention extending to Fusion this year."
Jones says that Fusion and its aftermarket potential will appeal to the much-sought-after younger consumer.
"Fusion will fill a gap in Ford's line-up for that younger customer looking for a vehicle that expresses their own personality and achievements," she said adding that Fusion's $17,795 base price also makes it an attractive option for the younger buyer.