Ford Motor January U.S. sales up 13%

Ford Motor Company reported January sales were 127,317, up 13% from 2009, as the killing of the Mercury brand and a 27% decline in sales to daily rental companies hurt results in a U.S. industry that was up 17% overall. Mustang and Taurus posted sales declines as a result. Overall fleet sales were down 10%, but still comprise 30% of Ford’s sales mix.

However, retail sales climbed 27% versus a year ago. Retail sales for cars grew 35%, 22% for sport utilities and 24% for trucks. In total, retail sales accounted for 90,000 units.

Ford appears to be under pressure from a resurgent General Motors, whose marketing executives now can devote their energies to only four brands, a steady stream of new products, and targeted incentives similar to the ones that severely hurt Ford’s European sales in 2010 and sent its share prices sharply downward last week.

Still, Ford Fusion continues to be a strong seller. The mid-size sedan set a January sales record of 14,346, up 18%. In 2010, Fusion set a full year sales record of 219,219 – the first time since 2004 a Ford car has passed the 200,000 milestone.

And Ford, too, can also count on several significant new product introductions this year, including the Explorer, Fiesta and Focus. Above all, one month does not a year make.  This is going to be a complicated toughly contested sales year.

Ford Cars

Fiesta posted January sales of 4,270. The Los Angeles region continues to be the top-selling region for Ford’s smallest car. Focus sales decreased 13% to 9,014. A new Focus arrives in dealerships this spring. Ford Taurus sales were down 23% at 2,896. Ford Mustang sales were down 33% at 3,165.  And the Crown Victoria, which Ford is in the process of killing, was up 25% at 3,923.

Ford Utilities

Escape was up 29% at 13,973. Edge at 8,918 was up 43%.  Flex was off 18%, to 2,000 units. Taurus X is now gone. Explorer – all new and based on the Taurus soared 73%, to 7,351 units. And the Expedition stayed even at 2,611.

Ford Trucks

Ford F-Series had strong January sales of 35,806, up 30%. In 2010, F-Series sales totaled 528,349, up 28% versus 2009. F-Series has been the best-selling truck in America for 34 years in a row and the best-selling vehicle, car or truck, for 29 straight years.

Ford’s Econoline and Transit Connect vans captured more than 60% of the commercial van market in 2010. In January, Econoline sales totaled 7,979, up 29% versus a year ago. Transit Connect sales totaled 2,072, up 78%.

Ford had six of the top eight vehicles registered to commercial fleet customers in 2010 and an industry-leading 38% share of the commercial fleet market, based on November calendar-year-to-date registrations.

Lincoln

Lincoln remains a significant challenge to marketers, one that will likely continue for years as few buyers consider it a luxury vehicle. Overall Lincoln sales were off 21% in January to 5,558 units, with only the newish MKZ and MKX posting modest gains, totaling a little more than 3,000 units. For comparison, Cadillac sold 12, 580 vehicles a 49% year-over-year increase in January.

Mercury

It’s all over for Mercury but a footnote, but it will haunt Ford sales results for much of the year. Here it is:

* Sales were down from 5,482 units last January to 248 Grand Marquis sedans.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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