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If Ford's NASCAR teams retire the Fusion, perhaps there's a bolder name than Mustang

Mike Reader, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

If the Ford Fusion gets retired from the automaker's passenger-car lineup, what nameplate should replace it in the NASCAR Cup Series?

There's an obvious candidate, but if Ford Performance asked me -- it won't -- I'd offer another suggestion.

1. Why will the Ford Fusion be replaced?

There are two Fusions at question here, the midsize passenger sedan sold in Ford dealerships, and the NASCAR racing car.

The family car appears to be in trouble, or may be facing a radical change.

"It's a competition, they've gotta bring it and one of these days I'm sure they will," NASCAR's Kyle Busch says about racing's younger drivers.

The Detroit News reported last month that Ford has canceled the redesign program for the consumer version of the Fusion and is re-evaluating the midsize sedan's future.

Ford is not selling as many Fusions as it would like -- sales were down 21 percent for 2017 -- even though the car remains the automaker's top-selling U.S. sedan.

While the redesign cancellation doesn't mean the Fusion nameplate will disappear altogether, it could signal a shift in how Ford approaches its lineup, the News' Ian Thibodeau wrote. It is possible that the company could follow Chrysler's lead and stop selling midsize sedans in the United States. However, his source told him that that the Fusion would remain in the lineup for at least another three years. A later redesign is also possible.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett has indicated that consumers prefer a "bigger silhouette," but poor fuel efficiency has hampered large-car sales, Thibodeau wrote. A larger, but more fuel-efficient sedan -- with or without the Fusion brand -- could be the key that lets Ford "crack the code" and deliver what more buyers want.

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