Ford Taurus in 2005, Fusion in 2006

UPDATE #2 Ford Taurus Ends Production Ends in March 2006: The last Ford Taurus will roll off the assembly line in the first three months of 2006, ending a 21-year run that has racked up nearly 6.7 million total U.S. sales. The news was relayed to employees at Ford Motor Co.'s Atlanta plant in an April newsletter distributed by United Auto Workers Local 882. With its jellybean shape, the debut 1986 model helped revolutionize American car design and pull Ford out of a financial tailspin. By 1992, it was the country's best-selling car — a title it held for five consecutive years. But in recent years, as sales have waned, Ford has been pushing the Taurus out of its retail lineup and into the fleets of rental car companies. It is being replaced in dealer showrooms by the Ford Fusion, which debuts this fall. The end of Taurus production robs Ford's Atlanta assembly plant of its last product. Production of the Mercury Sable, a Taurus twin, ends this month — and no new product has been earmarked for the plant, which opened in 1947 and employs nearly 2,000 hourly workers. Ford would not confirm when Taurus production will end and declined comment on Atlanta's future. Detroit News 12/14/04 This Autoweek article shows spy shots of the 2006 Ford Fusion, rumored to be headed for Nextel Cup. 10/09/04 Ford is expected to continue racing the Taurus in NASCAR for 2005, though that car will be relegated largely to fleets, as the 2005 Ford Five Hundred sedan becomes the company's focus for the passenger-car market. Ford will not race the Five Hundred, but is expected to race the 2006 Ford Fusion, a Taurus-sized sedan based on the Mazda6 platform. That car was originally called the Ford Futura, but Pep Boys, the parts supplier, used the Futura name for its line of tires, and Ford and Pep Boys could not come to an agreement, even though the Futura name was used by Ford for a Falcon model. Ford already uses the name "Fusion" in Europe. Orlando Sentinel

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