Ford Motor U.S. Sales Flat in October – Second Month on Hold

Ford Motor Company posted weak sales of 168,456 total vehicles in October, unchanged from a year ago in an industry that grew more than 8%. Retail sales were up 2% compared to last year. It was Ford’s second straight no-growth month of the year. (Ford Motor U.S. Sales Flat in September)

It wasn’t immediately clear if this was a setback because of Ford’s aggressive pricing this year and a move to pushing upscale versions of all its models, which have boosted North American profits, or the sign of other marketing and/or quality troubles. The explanation might be as simple as model changeovers of the Escape, Fusion and Lincoln MKS, though that is yet to be proven. In addition, Hurricane Sandy probably cost Ford several thousand thousand units.  (Ford Motor Posts $1.6 Billion Profit in Q3. Europe Loses $468 Million)

The Ford Fusion model changeover (-30) clearly accounted for some of the decline, as did the dropping of the compact Ranger pickup truck and Crown Victoria sedan. Sales of the new Escape were up slightly compared with last year, though, and Escape might set another record sales year in 2012, passing its 2011 record sales of 254,293 now that full production is underway.

Once again, the F-Series at more than 56,000 vehicles carried the Number Two U.S. automaker, which remains in danger of losing that spot to a resurgent Toyota, which posted sales of 155,242 units in October, up 15.8%. F-Series posted its best October sales since 2004, providing its 15th consecutive year-over-year monthly sales increase.

Lincoln, also caught in the Fusion model changeover with its MKZ version, dropped 15% to 5,100 units. Lincoln without a clear image and only a local presence remains a hobby not a business at FMC.

Focus (18,000 +48%), the expensive new C-Max Hybrid (3,200) and Fiesta sales (4,000 -3%) totaled 25,000 vehicles in October, Ford’s best October small car sales month since 2001, and a 54% increase year over year in a market that is shifting toward small cars, thereby playing into the strengths of the Japanese Three. At least for this market shift, Ford has credible small car entries but it remains plagued with quality problems concerning transmissions and infotainment systems. (Japanese Top CR Reliability Survey Again. Ford and Lincoln Plummet)

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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