DETROIT -

The new Ford Fusion is causing something akin to nuclear Fission—generating a ton of heat and energy.  The new midsize sedan is being called "show-stealer" by people on the show stands at Mercedes, BMW, and across the Cobo floor.  Why?  Not just because it’s gorgeous but because of what it represents: a change in culture.  GM and Ford were notorious for taking a hit design and riding it to death.  Their re-styling of popular models were safe, timid, and ultimately bland.  Ford’s current Fusion is Ford’s top-selling car.  It set a sales record in 2011.  It increase sales in 13 out of the last 14 months.  10 years ago that would be a recipe for cautious styling changes.  But Ford designers, and to their credit, the guys that count the beans, resisted that powerful temptation and clean-sheeted this car.

 

The result:  Fission.  "This will stick a knife in the throat of the Camry,” said Automobile Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings.  "It is Audi-like, absolute perfection.  Who would have thought a family mid-size car would steal this show?"

 

Apparently Ford did.  The company spent a small fortune (by one estimate, $5M) to transform center ice at Joe Louis Arena into a theater in the round for its introduction.  They gleefully point out Camry sales are down 31% from their peak… the current Fusion is setting new highs.  With that momentum, they feel the money is well-spent.  For the Wings sake, I hope the Fission, er…Fusion, doesn’t melt home ice.

 

Trash talking!  Toyotahas purchased a mega-billboard on the side of Cobo to tout its segment-leading fuel economy in the new Camry hybrid 43mpg city /39 mpg highway…

It declares the Camry hybrid the most fuel-efficient midsize (sorry Fusion)   

 

Ford President Alan Mulally suggests Toyota’s crowing may be short-lived saying  “the numbers will set you free.”   What numbers?  The fuel economy for the new Fusion hybrid… 47 city/44 highway.    I wonder who will buy the billboard next year…..