September U.S. vehicle sales at Ford Motor were a repeat of last year, ~175,000, as the Dearborn-based automaker continues to lag total market growth rates. A variety of Ford induced factors – including inventory shortages from deficient forecasting made early in the Great Recession when Ford jettisoned (too) many workers and plants, the killing of the Ranger pickup truck, as well as necessary new model changeovers now underway are clearly hurting results.
Projections put the overall U.S. industry to grow more than 12% when final numbers are available late today [September came in at +13% – editor], with Japanese makers Toyota, Nissan and Honda expected to post double-digit increases as car segments continue to boom because of $4 a squirt gasoline. Once again, this month Toyota – now fully back in production – challenged Ford for the Number Two U.S. sales position with monthly sales of 171,910 units.
The subcompact, compact and midsize car segments are expected to show retail sales growth of at least 25% percent, compared with September 2011, according to a projection by J.D. Power and Associates. Japanese automakers have strong reputations and residual values in these segments, which result in attractive pricing, buyer loyalty and increasing sales.
At Ford, total car sales increased 2%, total utilities 9%, and total trucks were down 8%. Fleet sales at 26% remained high, and calendar year-to-date represent 31% of total sales. While stronger F-Series, E-Series and Transit Connect sales occurred, the Ford truck loss came from the discontinuation of the compact Ranger pickup truck. As usual, the F-Series at 55,077 continued its industry leadership with its best September sales tally in five years.
The new Escape – despite three major recalls thus far – had a record September, with 23,148 vehicles sold, for a 14% increase versus last year’s record sales. Escape is on pace to surpass last year’s record sales of 254,293 vehicles for the full year. Fusion died in the market, off 37% y-o-y to 12,300 because of low inventory as dealers are just now receiving the revised 2013 Fusion. Things should improve at the Ford brand as car production increases late this year.
Ford sales of Focus, C-MAX and Fiesta totaled 24,628 vehicles in September, representing Ford’s best September for small car sales in 10 years. This was basically all Focus sales at 20,000 units, which were up 91%, while the all-new C-MAX, which began sales last month, accounted for 969 units. Lincoln brand sales at 6,800 were off 3%.