Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information from Ford correcting an earlier statement made by the company.
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will discontinue the Fusion Sport trim for the 2020 model year as it focuses on offering more popular versions in the sedan’s final years. But other versions of the sedan will remain in production until at least 2021, the company said Thursday.
"Our goal in the final production year is to further simplify the offering and focus on maximizing the more popular SE, SEL, and Titanium models," a Ford spokesman said in a statement. CarsDirect.com first reported the Fusion Sport's pending demise.
Ford will build the Fusion at least into the 2021 calendar year, a spokesman said. The spokesman previously told Automotive News that production would end in the 2020 calendar year, but on Thursday said that information was incorrect.
The news of the Sport trim’s death marks the end of what could be considered a failed last-ditch effort to save the vehicle.
Amid declining sales, Ford made the Fusion Sport the centrepiece of its 2016 Detroit auto show display. It used media personality Ryan Seacrest to reveal the new trim -- part of the Fusion's midcycle freshening -- in a callback to its 2012 elaborate celebration in New York's Times Square for the second-generation Fusion.
Company officials hoped the Fusion Sport's flashy performance figures — 325 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque from a 2.7-litre V-6 engine — would help pump up sales and differentiate it in what some considered a bland segment.
It failed to generate much buzz. Spokesman Jiyan Cadiz on Wednesday said the Sport trim accounted for less than 10 percent of total Fusion sales.
Canadian sales of the Fusion fell 27 per cent to 7,148 vehicles in 2018. But, sales are up 36 per cent to 4,123 units through the first five months of this year.
Overall Fusion sales in the U.S. topped 300,000 in both 2014 and 2015, although the sedan could not topple Toyota, Honda and Nissan in the competitive midsize sedan segment. U.S. sales of the Fusion dropped 17 percent to 173,600 last year but rose 8.8 percent to 77,578 in the first five months of 2019.