On a warm late summer night last Thursday, The Garage was invited by Ford to be a part of Fashion’s Night Out with the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion. The event was called a ‘pop-up’ and was no simple display of just a new car. The concept originated from Donna Karan as a means to show how sustainability and environmental friendliness are working in the fashion industry…and the new Ford Fusion. This is actually a part of a web series known as Random Acts of Fusion. If the notion of high fashion and a mid-size American car sound, well, odd, bear with me.
New York City has been an easy train ride away my entire life, but I’ve never been to the Meatpacking District where Ford was hosting the event. I’m no stranger of the intensity of NYC, but that night it was times two. In talking with Ford’s PR staff, I was told the emphasis was on the topic of sustainability. What the means in real talk is Ford is taking lengths to use more environmentally friendly and renewable resources in constructing their cars. And it just so happens the new Fusion is, in my opinion, drop dead gorgeous, so the car hardly looked out of place in the midst of high fashion and models.
Ford has flown me to their headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan twice this year. First to see the global reveal of the new Fusion, and again for the Go Further conference. This was the first time I have seen what Ford had been telling me from the comfort of their home office in person. Ford feels the next generation of car buyers see cars differently from anyone currently above the age of 30, and they are right. Stats show younger generations are gravitating to the city. Technology is a must, not a luxury.
Back to Gansevoort Plaza in the heart of the Meatpacking District. Next door, TV’s Oxygen Network is having a private party for a show I know nothing about, but there are velvet ropes, red carpet and people holding clipboards. Everywhere there are huge men in black suits. Across the street there is a club with a line 50 people deep waiting to get in. And then some random protest group making noise, about what, I could not tell you. Music was pounding from all directions. I had spoken to Ford, taken my pictures. I needed a break.
I found a place around the corner without a line, and sat with a $9 pint of Heineken, and tried to contemplate what just happened. Across the street from me stood a fleet of Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series awaiting their owners. The Ford Fusion competes against the most common cars sold, the Camry, Altima, and Accord. Yet, at what seemed to be the epicenter of hip New York social life, people were checking out the Fusion. In droves. What struck me was that people were checking out a car that will sell just fine in Kansas City, Missouri to an average middle class working family, but some of these people were dressed in outfits that probably cost as much as my first Volkswagen.
I had time to spare, but I wanted to go home. Back to my family and bungalow by Long Island Sound. I hailed a cab, and when I told him to take to me Grand Central Station, he sighed ‘Thank God, I have got to get out of here!’ That says a lot from a NY cabbie. Even sporting my trusty Doc Martens and a sharp plaid shirt, I was hopelessly out of place. We cruised through Chelsea, where I’ve attended other auto events, which were much more my speed.
If it sounds like I had a bad experience, I did not. I was here for an assignment, and I learned a lot about how Ford is marketing their pride and joy. I questioned if they expected any of these socialites would buy a Fusion. But if anything, they are aware of it, and that it appeared to seamlessly meet their extremely high standards of style and fashion speaks volumes of the work J Mays and his design team has put into the Fusion. In my opinion, it was a success, and raised an awareness of a car this crowd never would have given a second thought to.
On my quiet train ride home, surrounded by exhausted New York businessmen playing with their smartphones, I am again impressed at the lengths Ford is going to reach out to new markets, and especially the ever elusive Generation Y. Having a plush Lincoln MKT awaiting me made the quick ride to home all the better, where I comfortably slipped back into my family life again.