F series, Fusion drive Ford gains

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The more things change at Ford Motor Co., the more they stay the same. Despite an influx of smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles in the lineup in 2013, the F-Series pickup still dominates.

In December, sales of the F-Series pickup shot up 8.4 percent, outselling Ford's entire lineup of cars, 74,592 to 61,516. In 2013, Ford sold 763,402 F-Series vehicles, the highest number since 2006.

For the year, sales of all vehicles rose 11 percent, with Ford brand up 11.3 percent and Lincoln down 0.6 percent.

"Ford F-Series finishes 2013 with exclamation point," said John Felice, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service. "For the full year, F-Series sales are up 18 percent. We did this while increasing average transaction prices by more than 15 percent 2013 vs. 2012."

Ford is in the midst of selling down its 2013 F-Series pickups. Ford spent an average of $4,100 on incentives for its 2013 F-Series models last month, said Erich Merkle, Ford sales analyst.

Strong sales of pickups and crossovers contributed to a 2 percent December increase for Ford Motor Co. in December. The Escape continued to be Ford's strongest selling crossover in December with a 22 percent increase, to 24,462 unit.

The Escape benefitted from a move to small crossovers, said Merkle.

"Small utilities are about 16 percent of industry. That could be the highest the industry has seen."

While the Escape was selling well, sales of Ford's small cars weakened for the month. The Fiesta subcompact dropped 20 percent in December and the Focus compact fell 31 percnet in December, while the C-Max hybrid dropped 53 percent.

Despite a slow December, the Fiesta set a record of 71,073 in 2013, up 25 percent from 2012.

Merkle said low fuel prices contributed to the slower sales of the C-Max and Ford's other small cars. Overall, sales of cars dropped 9 percent for the month, while trucks rose 7 percent and crossovers and utilities rose 6 percent.

Among cars, the Fusion and Mustang were the only gainers for the Ford brand. The Fusion was up 27 percent and the Mustang was up 3 percent. The Fusion finished the year with a record 295,280 sales, up 22 percent from 2012.

Lincoln sales rose 8 percent for the month to 7,984 units based largely on the strength of the MKZ sedan, which shot up 73 percent to 2,823 units. The MKZ was the only Lincoln model to post a sales gain for the month.

After a troubled launch, the MKZ finished the year with 32,361 sales.

Said Felice: "April was the point we had adequate stock levels. We've very adequate. We recognize we have further to go with Lincoln and further product introductions."

Lincoln will launch the MKC compact luxury crossover in early summer.

In December, 27 percent of Ford's sales were to fleets including 15 percent commercial, 3 percent government and 9 percent daily rental. That compares to 28 percent total fleet sales in December, 2012.

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@crain.com.


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