Ford says the unique deck lid design of the new ’13 Fusion midsize sedan can reduce repair costs 13% compared with the outgoing model in the case of a low-speed rear-end collision.

Replacing the ’13 Fusion’s rear bumper cover and the panel assembly on the rear deck lid can cost $267 less than the same work on a ’12 model, the auto maker says.

“On most sedans, you will find a shelf between the rear bumper fascia and deck lid,” Joel Piaskowski, Ford design director, says. “Fusion’s integration panel visually eliminates that flat surface.”

Working with the design team, Ford engineers were able to keep the Fusion’s form intact while lowering the costs resulting from rear-impact repairs, which can lower insurance rates.

An integration panel is mounted to the rear face of the Fusion deck lid. In the event of a low-speed impact, the panel is designed to absorb the brunt of damage that may occur. The auto maker first used the design on the European-market Mondeo in 2007. For the ’13 model year, the Fusion and Mondeo for the first time share sheetmetal.

Ford says it expects the Fusion's low-speed, rear-end repair costs to be 3% lower than for the Toyota Camry and 27% less than the Nissan Maxima.

Rear-end repair costs are higher than other body parts because they are most likely to require replacement parts. Larry Coan, Ford customer-service damageability engineer, says rear-end collisions more generally occur on midsize sedans, while other types of accidents are more common in other segments.

“Driver demographics come into play,” Coan tells WardsAuto. “Some (segments) have more front-end collisions, and those are the types where the driver causes the accident. He says front-end collisions are more likely to occur with models such as the Focus C-car and Mustang sports car, whose drivers may be “more aggressive and maybe younger.”

Coan says his team works to reduce repair costs on all its vehicles, including small cars such as the Fiesta and large trucks such as the F-Series Super Duty. Front- and side-impact cost reduction also is a goal, he says.

“We made some improvements to the front end (of the Fusion) as well,” Coan says. “With the bumper being extended further out past the rail, it protects it more than the previous model. We’re trying to maximize our design for damageability and take into account insurance costs.”

bpope@wardsauto.com