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Mulally Shakes Up Hybrid Market with New Ford Fusion

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Ford's answer to the electric car dilemma -- the new Fusion -- feels as much at home on an interstate highway as on a narrow European street.

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"The Fusion is in keeping with our philosophy that you don't have to change your lifestyle to drive an electric car," Ford's chief engineer, Adrian Whittle, told Minyanville. "First you choose which car you like. Then you can decide if you want it to be gas-powered, a plug-in, or a hybrid."

For consumers who choose the hybrid option, they'll get a car with a lithium-ion battery pack that's 30% smaller and 50% lighter than the old model. The new Fusion's maximum speed under electric-only power increases to 62 mph from 47 mph.

The new model also incorporates Ford's auto start-stop technology. When the foot is on the brake, the engine stops. Release the brake, and the engine turns on. The $295 option is well worth it – the transition between stop and start is surprisingly smooth. Plus, the car has no emissions when it's stopped. So the average driver can recoup the $295 cost of the start-stop option in fuel savings over the course of 18 months.

For a seasoned executive who might be eyeing retirement in the next few years, Mulally shows no signs of slowing down. Nor is his company's marketing campaign around the Fusion. To tout the hybrid model's 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway, and 47 mph combined rating, Ford launched a multimedia campaign that challenges consumers to record "random acts of fusion" within the next 47 days. Customers are already playing out the storyline on the company's website.

Ryan Seacrest is no doubt scoping out the submissions for the next season of American Idol.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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