Ford sales rise 6% on pickups, small cars
Czubay says Escape, Fusion sales not hurt by latest recall
DETROIT -- Higher demand for pickups and small cars helped Ford Motor Co. achieve a 6 percent U.S. sales increase in November.
Sales rose 18 percent for the Ford F-series pickup, putting it on pace for a full-year total of more than 600,000 units for the first time since 2007.
The automaker also posted its best-ever month for electrified vehicles and its strongest November small-car sales since 2000. Sales of the Ford Focus compact car increased 56 percent from a year ago, and the C-Max Hybrid, in its second full month on the market, jumped 52 percent from October to 4,848 units in November.
Meanwhile, sales dropped 9 percent to just 5,732 units at the Lincoln brand, which is being rechristened Lincoln Motor Co. as of today.
Ford said it plans to build 750,000 vehicles in North America during the first quarter of 2013, 11 percent more than in the same period a year earlier.
Ford Motor’s total sales for November were 177,092, keeping it about 16,000 units ahead of Toyota Motor Sales, which posted a 17 percent gain. Ford Motor’s retail sales increased 12 percent.
Demand for Ford’s small cars was particularly strong in California, where combined sales of the C-Max, Focus and Fiesta more than doubled. Nationwide, the C-Max is selling almost as quickly as it arrives at dealerships, said Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.
“C-Max is doing a terrific job,” Czubay said on a conference call with analysts and reporters. “We expect consumer demand to be very sustained on that. We’re very pleased with the progress we’ve made in the first two months.”
The C-Max and Fusion have become the automaker’s fastest-turning nameplates, with each selling after an average of 12 days on the lot. But Fusion sales dropped 24 percent in November, which Ford blamed on low inventory; dealers had fewer than half as many Fusions in stock as they did a year earlier because distribution of the recently redesigned 2013 model is still ramping up.
Sales of the Escape, Ford’s small crossover, declined 4 percent. On Friday, Ford announced a recall of about 89,000 2013 Escapes and Fusions due to a risk of engine fires. It is the fourth recall on the redesigned Escape, but Czubay insisted that sales have not been harmed as a result, noting that retail deliveries of the Escape rose 7 percent last month.
“We haven’t seen any derogatory showroom traffic on the vehicle or comments, Czubay said.
Ford is asking owners affected by the latest recall to take their vehicle to a dealership immediately, and the company is providing them alternative transportation. The cause of the problem “hasn’t been determined,” he said.
“I think the biggest message that we’re getting across to consumers is Ford’s incredible proactivity and our concern for their safety,” Czubay said. “We’re taking all measures to make that as smooth as we can.”
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