Ford Fusion Smokes Camry Hybrid on Fuel Economy

Posted by: David Kiley on December 29, 2008

fusion-hyb.jpg

If timing is everything, as the old saying goes, then Ford has all the talent of a hurricane the day of an outdoor wedding.

First, the headline. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid scored a sizable improvement in fuel economy over the Toyota Camry hybrid. The Fusion, on sale in March, has been certified at 41 city/36 highway, compared with 33/34 for the Camry.

That is especially sweet for Ford. When Ford launched its Escape Hybrid SUV, it didn’t seem to get full credit for having the first hybrid SUV on the market because it used some of Toyota’s patented technology. Even though, Ford developed the system, the false perception was created that the whole thing was copped from Toyota.

The fact was that Ford ended up using a few bits of the Toyota technology that was patented. The truth is that it is hard to do a hybrid system today without running into some patents held by either GM or Toyota.

But it goes to show how much room there is for engineers at two different companies to take essentially the same technology and achieve different end results by creating their own unique systems. Not that Toyota, I’m thinking, couldn’t have achieved comparable numbers for the Camry. But after you take the battery and other hybrid controller bits and pieces and mate them to a unique engine, and then allow for differences in weight, tuning, features, wheel-base size, there is a lot of room for fuel economy variation.

Ford prioritized scoring the highest possible fuel economy number without compromising performance. Indeed, driving the Fusion Hybrid the last several days, I can attest that I did not miss any performance aspects as I got an average of 37 mpg in combined driving. A good deal of my driving was highway. In city, mileage was closer to 50 owing to the fact that you can go up to 47 mph without using any gas.

Ford introduced the Fusion Hybrid (along with the nearly identical Mercury Milan hybrid) at the LA Auto Show the same week that the Detroit-Three CEOs were testifying before Congress the first time asking for bailout loans. Ford CEO Alan Mulally mentioned the Fusion hybrid to lawmakers and media several times that week, but all the attention was on the private jet he flew to Washington, and his $22 million compensation last year.

Gas is between $1.50 and $1.70 in most of the country these days. That’s not ideal for selling hybrids, and Toyota has found out. That waiting list for Priuses has thinned out quite a bit since summer.
The EPA certification for the Fusion, which smokes the Camry on fuel economy, came out on December 23 when office parties were going on, end of year projects were being completed, pink-slips were going out and last minute shopping was being considered.

If the Fusion’s fuel economy bragging rights weren’t enough to sell the car come Spring, Ford has baked in a number of mid-cycle improvements to the Fusion including a better looking front end and an interior that is a light year better than the original Fusion. The car is seriously handsome now, with a sparkling interior. It is the interior with which Ford should have launched the car. But the original Fusion interior was not designed and approved under the design renaissance of global product chief Derrick Kuzak.

The only thing this car is missing to make a big green splash is a brand reputation for green fuel efficient cars, and, of course, timing.

If gas prices head North again in 2010, though, I’d say Ford is well situated to take advantage and generate some waiting lists of its own. Of course, by that time, GM will be closer to launching the Volt extended range electric, and will probably be sucking most of the oxygen out of the room at that time.

Coming soon….my driving review of the Fusion Hybrid.

Reader Comments

owlafaye

December 29, 2008 11:41 AM

I am quite confident that the Ford Fusion will never deliver the EPA mileage claims. The numbers versus the Toyota Hybrid just don't match up. In addition, foreign companies are de-tuning and raising rear end ratios as we speak, and doing it on their long time production platforms...economically. Whereas American mfgs. have to re-tool, drop clunky platforms and cubic inched engines and redesign. Big difference in $$$$$. I understand the Ford engineers were surprised by the EPA figures...the real surprise will be when we find out it is hype.

delicia lewis

December 29, 2008 1:15 PM

Ford Fusion Smokes Camry Hybrid on Fuel Economy, Is this really the headline you should be using for Ford Products
" Smokes" Where there's smoke there's fires" The 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII my son was driving was branded a beautiful, ahead of it's time luxury vehicle. That turned out to not be able to make it to 90K miles, before it burned my 22 son and his girlfriend to death. Of course Ford denies this, and will be dragging our families through the courts for years, but this mother will never stop until justice is served.

David

December 29, 2008 1:59 PM

Well, that sure is nice that Ford can use some of someone else's technology and improve on it. But if you want to see something really high tech and fuel efficient that's going to blow away everybody this coming year at the PROGRESSIVE X-PRIZE COMPETITION...go to hp2g.com . See the 1987 Mustang that gets 100 mpg !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David

December 29, 2008 4:06 PM

Why do we waste engineering talent building cars? We need first class public transit. Driving a car is so old school and tired. It's over. Does it really make sense to move 2 tons of metal to pick up an 8 ounce cup of coffee or a shirt at a mall out in the middle of nowhere? Yep, I'll just keep moving 2 tons everywhere I go. There's nothing odd about that, right? Everybody's doing it here so that makes it normal. How does the addition of each new car in my neighborhood improve the health of my children or my neighbors? Hmmm...let me count the ways: childhood obesity, way up! Cause: too much riding in cars. Duh!

Alexey

December 29, 2008 4:26 PM

but boy... how ugly that car is! It so much reminds me our Russian Ladas.

mr simple

December 29, 2008 4:27 PM

Ford is doing a great job at increasing competition among Asian car giants. It won't be long till another "Camry Hybrid Smokes Ford Fusion on Fuel Economy, Longevity, Appearance and everything else. Ford should return to making beautiful old classics. Nothing more.

russell

December 29, 2008 4:28 PM

It seams like Ford is over in the corner waving the I won flag (no tax dollars, best fuel car) yet everyone keeps buying stock in GM and talking about GM.

So far Ford has not asked for any money and is not ready to close its doors if it doesn't get tax money. Yet, GM stock still goes up....funny. This stock market is the biggest crap shoot there is.

I can't believe the union UAW is going to be allowed to take down these two companies with all the unfair and exhorbient fees. What percentage will they get when there is no jobs?

Mike

December 29, 2008 4:32 PM

How many times does it have to be said. Ford does NOT use anything of Toyotas in its hybrid drive system. Even Toyota has admitted that.
And I would bet that the Fusion Hybrid comes a lot closer to those EPS numbers than ANY Prius has ever come.

From Kiley: I will double check this but i believe in the briefing Ford acknowledged that it licenses some toyota technology. As I understand it, if you are going to do a hybrid today...you either run into technology or patents from Toyota or GM. Clearly, Ford has done its own thing with the technology it has licensed. It hasn't licensed Toyota's whole system, but there are key elements of it that are in the Ford hybrids.

Marc

December 29, 2008 4:33 PM

Have u ever heard of Honda CRV engine fires and those are the new ones, or how about toyota engine sludge or tundra transmission failures just a few examples of the reliability of the japs. From these two comments its proof no matter what Ford or GM does some people will not see it for what is. It is nice Ford can take someone else technology and build on it just like the japs did with Ford and GM before to get where they are now.

David M

December 29, 2008 4:43 PM

Dear David Kiley,

According to your article, you insinuate that Ford is utilizing Toyota's hybrid technology by saying, "That’s is a neat trick considering that Ford utilizes some of Toyota’s hybrid technology" . Yet, Doron Levin, a Bloomberg Columnist corrected this mis-perception on April 22nd, 2004 in his article entitled "Ford disputes View its Hybrid is a Toyota".

Officially Toyota has been gracious toward the Escape hybrid. ``We're thrilled that there's another manufacturer entering the hybrid arena,'' said Irv Miller, Toyota's group vice president for communications. ``It adds further to our belief the technology is viable.''

Levin goes on to say, "Miller acknowledged the accuracy of Ford's version of events regarding the patent agreement. ``They thought their software was close enough that they wanted to protect themselves,'' he said".

source:
Levin, Doron. "Ford Disputes View That Its Hybrid Is a Toyota". Bloomberg. 12/29/08 .


From Kiley: I never said that the ford was a toyota....simply that ford utilizes some licensed technology from toyota....

Dan Carnegie

December 29, 2008 5:11 PM

Delicia Lewis, I have an incredibly strong sense that your story is nothing but a bold faced lie.

David Kiley, you state, "That’s is a neat trick considering that Ford utilizes some of Toyota’s hybrid technology."

Please cite your source. Because both Ford AND TOYOTA have already stated that this IS NOT the case! Ford is not licensing hybrid tech from Toyota, the systems are *dramatically* different.

Rich

December 29, 2008 6:17 PM

David Kiley,

It is true that Ford, after a review of the generation 1 hybrid system used on the Escape, decided to trade a couple of minor patents with Toyota. You should know from your background that this is common practice within the auto industry. However, the prodution of the Escape hybrid did not involve ongoing royalty payments to Toyota.

The Fusion is Ford's generation 2 design. And, from Ford's press release:

"To deliver the class leading fuel economy performance, Ford's engineers spent the past three years developing in-house the vehicle's next-generation hybrid propulsion system"

In house means exactly what it says. This is a 100% Ford design.

Lev38

December 29, 2008 6:19 PM

To Owlafaye,

Well known domestic critic Dan Neil of the LA Times who has never given a domestic automobile praise in his life recently test drove the the Fusion Hybrid. He acheived 52 mpg with only a moderately conservative driving technique. The fact that this car can go 47 mph with the engine off is the key. In an urban environment it is very likely that you will never even need the engine to engage. Camry Hybrid is probably lucky to make it past 35 before the engine kicks on. And anyone who does not beat any EPA estimate of fuel mileage needs to really evaluate their driving habits. The EPA has set the bar very low due to constant complaining from the "whitetrash" drivers that permeate across our fair country stating that they couldn't match what the EPA used to rate cars at. So last year every model was cut by 2 mpg by the EPA.

salvatore

December 29, 2008 7:04 PM

so many idiotic comments, a company that strives to beat the MPG war and yet no kudos, what has has America come to, so many ill informed people who haven't a clue how to even engineer things like this. this has been stated to be different technology from Toyota but yet you claim using Toyota technology, Where do you get your source. And the rest of you that call for destruction of the big 3 that can cause irreversible effects for a VERY LONG TIME don't have a clue what can happen. Give this Company it's props and quit listening to the media and make your own decisions.

From Kiley: I amended the description of the toyota connection. I never said Ford lifted the system from toyota....just that they leveraged some toyota technology. That is factually correct. And it isn't meant as a slight or ding on Ford's effort. The car is terrific. Amd I also mentioned in the amended blog that even Toyota's system uses some GM patents.

John L

December 29, 2008 7:24 PM

What a bunch of whiny unpatriotic idiots. The one US based car manufacturer not taking a bailout yet produces a better car then its foreign competition and it seems like everyone wants to take a shot at them. These idiots would like everyone to buy foreign so all our manufacturers go out of business and then we can ship even more of our wealth overseas. Well at least we can look forward to a life working for Wal Mart and it will solve our illegal immigration problem because with few good paying jobs who will want to sneak into the US they will probably be running out.

RobertSD

December 29, 2008 8:05 PM

Mr. Kiley -

I think the problem many of us are having with your article is how you put in context Ford's development of its hybrid system. The actual progression was: Ford designs Escape's system, wonders if the software is infringing on patents, checks with Toyota and gets permission to use what Ford developed. Ford never relied on Toyota for its hybrid development, which is what many people insinuate and doesn't use anything in the way that Nissan uses Toyota's system for its Altima. Ford's program, whether or not it mimmicks Toyota's, was developed completely in Dearborn.

So, it's not that Ford uses some technology licensed from Toyota, it's that Ford needed to be sure that what they originally build didn't infringe on Toyota's work, the result meant the swapping of licenses for various technology between the company - not Toyota providing anything substantial to Ford. Semantics, but the meaning is critical.

Sincerely,
Robert

Versa-Tech

December 29, 2008 8:55 PM

Delicia's full of shit. However I doubt that is actually her leaving the comment. According to the Department of Public Safety report, her son drifted off the right side of the road, overcorrected and slid into two trees. The car then burst into flames, burning the two young people to death.

The evidence is conclusive. Ford is entirely responsible for their deaths. :p

Mike B- Car Crtique

December 30, 2008 9:34 AM

Some folks don't get it! Bottom line= 40 MPG City EPA Rated + Fair Price + Great Interior + Handsome Exterior + Ford's BIC Quality.

And have you watched the Yen climb 22% in price against the dollar in last year. Still climbing now.

Give it some time to let people find out about this car and gas prices. And regarding Volt, it is posted that this will be an expensive vehicle, where the return will be minimal for vs 40 MPG Fusion. People already understanding that on Prius.

This is a breakthrough vehicle... 20% better than the former best in class and I believe at a lower price.

Peter Jones

December 30, 2008 11:18 AM

Good Job Dan Carnegie...do a search before you call someone a liar:

http://www.expertwitnessblog.com/2007/08/automotive_fire_safety_expert.html

D Sakarya

December 30, 2008 4:03 PM

Ford sold all of 25,000 Escape hybrids in 2007. They could have sold more but choose not to. Confirming the charge that it was nothing more than PR, or at best a "place holder". I hope Ford intends to sell the Fusion hybrid in real quantities.

Zero Credibility

December 30, 2008 4:20 PM

Detroit automakers have zero credibility for quality. No matter what Detroit says about quality or MPG the consumer will buy from the track record of Asian manufacturers. It is all about cost of ownership, repair frequency, ease of maintenance, initial cost, attention to detail, and style.

Just7tme

December 30, 2008 4:42 PM

What is the engine type and displacement in the Ford Fusion Hybrid? I have seen no mention of it anywhere, except it is 70kW (per Wikipedia).

skeptic

December 30, 2008 5:15 PM

The Chevy Volt may get the most publicity but................
I am concerned that the Chevy Volt will be a big disappointment, and will have wasted a lot of the taxpayers "loan" to GM.
When the Volt's battery runs down to 30% of its charge, a 1.4 liter gasoline engine turns on and keeps the battery at that 30% charge level.

This means that the 1.4 liter engine is the only source of power for the car. When I compare the
weight of the Volt to a much lighter Honda Fit (using F=ma), I estimate that the Volt will take 16 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph.
This is very slow, and will not satisfy American drivers getting onto a highway. I hope this issue
gets resolved before a lot of our taxpayer money is
spent in completing the design and production of the Volt.

Dan Canegie

December 30, 2008 11:23 PM

Good job Peter Jones, do you really think that was Delicia Lewis? Do you believe Ford was responsible for those deaths?

salvatore

December 31, 2008 12:16 AM

continued idiotic posts from people. D Sakarya, you haven't a clue what you're talking about, Ford was restricted from getting batteries from the supplier because of Toyota, get your facts straight.
Zero Credibility, you haven't read an article about Ford for the past 3 yrs and what great strides that they have made, they are equal or better than Toyota or Honda. The past is gone and the present and future is here but you wanna live in the past and can't see Toyota's quality is going down. Take the horse blinders off. Ford is screaming back but people are inept to see it.

D Sakarya

January 1, 2009 8:43 PM

@salvatore
I do have a clue. I use to work for Matsushita Electric, which supplies batteries for the Prius.
Since the Escape hybrid was introduced in 2004, Toyota has sold about a half million of the Prius and about 160,000 hybrid Camry . Unless Ford has the battery issued covered, they're just blowing Smoke.

Confusion

January 3, 2009 9:31 PM

"Zero Credibility" doesn't know what he's talking about. Toyota recalled more vehicles in 2007 than they sold. Consumer Reports has stopped recommending the V6 Camry because of persistent quality problems.

CU also states that Ford builds the highest quality cars made in the US, and the existing Fusion model is the highest quality car in its class, PERIOD.

To think that Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are infallible is stupid. They have turned out lots of junk. Honda's Accords had leaking sunroofs a few years ago. Is that Quality? Toyota had Prius' which just stopped dead in the highway.

It's all perception - friends - and GM and Ford build vehicles which are every bit as good as the rice burners.

How Idiotic Some Posts Are

January 3, 2009 11:56 PM

I am surprised to see so many idiotic posts from people who simply don’t use any facts to judge the quality of vehicles from the American Big 3. Per J D Power, Lexus, Mercury, Cadillac, Toyota, and Acura, in that order, are the most dependable vehicle brands in 2008. J D Power dependability study is based on a 3-year ownership, which refer to the vehicles sold in 2005. Even with not so great quality “across the board” in 2005 from these American companies, Mercury and Cadillac captured the 2nd and 3rd spot. Imagine how the quality would be after they’ve re-tooled themselves in the past 3 years with new models like the Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, and Cadillac CTS.

Also, when talking about productivity of these American workers being employed by American Big 3 companies, just read Harbor Report on Auto Manufacturing Productivity (http://www.reliableplant.com/article.asp?articleid=6572). It clearly states that American companies and workers are more productive, i.e., Unions. For instance, GM has 4 engine/transmission plants in the top 10 lists, edging out Toyota and Honda.

The biggest problem for the Big Three is that their product mix is skewed towards trucks and historical less emphasis on fuel-efficient cars. That is changing.

See for those people who post idiotic gibberish, what I have stated here are “facts” and “opinion” about the American Big Three companies. I’ve not bad mouthed the Japanese or Koreans. If you are shooting from the hips (without any interaction with the brain), then there would be nothing that these companies could do to convince you.

Keep an open mind about things in life. We all screw up in life, but don’t hold a grudge for the rest of your life. That does nothing to enhance joy around you.

Thanks.

Venky

January 5, 2009 8:09 PM

Sakarya, I thought the Escape batteries were made by Sanyo, not Matsushita. Additionally how do you know about how many more Hybrids Ford could or could not have sold? Do you know their production, financial and overall capacity constraints? That sort of information is never provided in full to any supplier.

Matth

January 5, 2009 8:26 PM

I think a better and cheaper alternative is to convert your car into a hybrid. Charging may be okay but what about long trips and such. I think filling up on water is better. You can convert your current car into a hybrid with a hho generator, you could find some here http://www.convert2hybrid.com

Harris

January 6, 2009 7:57 PM

I agree with the people here that say some of these people posting are idiots. I have a fusion and I love it. My last car was a 04 528 BMW. Very good driving car but was nothing but a wallet drain.

Delicia Lewis

February 8, 2009 6:44 PM

Thank you Dan And Peter, for your comments.
1. The cruise control Switch was found to have internally failed, by experts in this field.
2.My son called me telling "somethings wrong with the car up or jump" A 911 call was made by two witness' that did not witness the wreck, but sat for appox. 2 hrs. while the car and the 2 human beings burned.
3.The 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII was recalled 7 months later, for the SDCS defect.
4. The burn patterns are the same as all the other switch fires a V shape on the hood.
I could go on and on,but it will be for the courts to decide.
Delicia Lewis Mother of Payton Tyler Lewis RIP

Car Nut

February 8, 2009 10:05 PM

I am one of those who desperately want the domestics to win, but I don't think we are there just yet. Ford has allot of great products going for it, as does GM (Alas, Chrysler is another matter), but several of it's vehicles are still loads. Ford is succeeding in many ways in spite of itself. All three of the domestics need a serious decapitation, removing the entrenched old think mentality of the antiquated hierarchy paradigms they cling too and get some business savvy car guys in charge. I am thoroughly convinced that the domestics have the ability to out-engineer the competition, but that these abilities are strangled in bureaucratic red tape. Another problem is when something goes wrong, the powers that be try to sweep it under the carpet. Witness the fiasco so many people have dealt with when changing spark plugs on late model F-150s and other cars and trucks using Ford's 3 valve per cylinder head design on it's V8s. The two piece spark plug design breaks off in the head, leaving the owner with essentially a $2,500 repair bill for replacing plugs. Ford could have handled that one better, but instead of taking care of it's customers, they shafted them. This is un-acceptable, especially when a company is trying to make "great strides" towards improving it's reputation for quality. GM and Chrysler are guilty too. This "screw-em" attitude is a real problem, and is a symptom of the old Detroit mentality that has got to go. Today's customers simply will not have it. Finally, many of those who were burned got burned several times. I don't think it's wrong or un-Patriotic to purchase a foreign car, or to question a domestic's quality. Many people bought one bad car after another and dealt with the exasperation of the service department weaseling out of any warranty claims and finally, even though they didn't want to do it, broke down and bought foreign. They then became accustomed to cars that ran well, were efficient, and were actually repaired when they did break, and were treated with respect by those who represented the manufacturer. This took decades to happen, so why should folks be so surprised when a three year quality streak doesn't really change perceptions? As someone who has battled his weight for a long time, I can tell you, I didn't get fat over a week's time, so how can I expect to get thin again in that short a time span? This quality perception will take years to turn around, and will be slowed by the few remaining lemons the domestic companies still sell, until those late bloomers are also purged from their respective lineups. I want Detroit to rule again, but I can't see that happening overnight. We are talking about a 10-15 year time span to turn it around, and at least another 5-10 to seriously pull ahead and re-take all the lost market share. I am hopeful that in 2035 the domestics will be the big 3 again(or maybe the big 2, as I am less optimistic about Chrysler's future), but I think it's GM and Ford's turn in the scrappy underdog seat that Toyota and Honda held for so long.

randynault

March 22, 2009 7:55 PM

After buying and driving a 2008 fusion 2.3 litre ,Stay away from the hybrids I rented the Toyota prius and Ford escape hybrid. The technology in those modols are weak and poorly designed Just stay on level roads and gently use the pedals and stop at every traffic light to feel the electric motor kickin.On that kind of commute, you might get 40mpg's They have the batteries that im sure would need replaced and the electical system sure to fail with conection problems because of factors like ,temp,weather ,moisture ,vibrations,etc. over a short period of time. Are these throw-aways and a waste of extra money to save a few mpg's.what a sales gimmick! I drove a couple of them on recent trips and was glad to have purchased the gas engine model 2 years ago. The 2008 fusion New with 6miles now has 20,000 miles not one problem!! fair gas mileage because I like to have a little get up and go when listening to my music .or because you need to drive it! They need to really look at power and longevity on these hybrids. We will see many of these 2009 and 2010 year electric cars on used car lots bypassing the electric system (when warrenty ends) for the use of the tiny underpowered gas engines "The way they should have left it like the 3 cyl Geo and Yugos of the 80's " If lots people are looking to save on fuel and have 18 seconds each time they need to get to 60mph on highway " or just stay off the highway period to keep your hybid in hybrid mode."Its not rocket science!"

Phil

June 22, 2009 10:50 PM

We recently purchased a Ford Fusion Hybrid; it is the best Hybrid currently out there. The vehicle is quiet and has a great ride. In addition, it has good looking interior with most luxury features (no memory seats). In fact, I think the car compares favorably to the low end Japanese vehicles; Acura TL & Infinity G-35. I don't mean to say that the Fusion Hybrid is as fast or as sporty as them (albeit @ 8.5 sec to 60, it's no slouch), just that in day to day driving it actually feels better. I must confess that when I first started looking for a Hybrid, I was convinced I would end up with the Camry Hybrid; after driving them several times back to back it was no contest. The Ford really is a better vehicle. It also did not hurt that Ford's vehicle quality has been statistically on par with the Japanese vehicles for some time (the latest JD Power quality rates show 101 defects for Toyota versus 102 for Ford; a statistical dead heat).

superstar

July 24, 2009 1:49 AM

Wow this is great. Hybrid. I love Hyrbids because it shows lower depreciation rates, very quiet to run and has a Lifter Bore Grooving Tool.

discount auto parts

September 3, 2009 11:48 AM

Hybrid cars are good for the environment. Please keep our environment clean by purchasing these types of cars.

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