Ford volume slips 6% ahead of key changeovers

Sales of Ford's top-selling F-series pickups declined 11 percent to 60,560 units from a year ago.
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Ford Motor Co. sales declined 6 percent in June from the year-ago month to 222,064 units as the company geared up for a changeover of several key models, including the F-150 pickup, Mustang pony car and Edge crossover.

Ford brand sales dropped 6 percent and Lincoln sales fell 3 percent. Sales of Ford’s top-selling F-series pickups declined 11 percent to 60,560 units from a year ago. Late this year, Ford will launch the redesigned 2015 F-150 with an aluminum body.

Ford has been building up stocks of the current truck as it prepares for factory changeovers in Dearborn, Mich., and Kansas City, Mo. Sales of the Edge, which is being replaced by a redesigned version early next year, dropped 29 percent to 9,700 units, and the Mustang, being replaced next quarter, fell 17 percent to 7,631 units.

Said John Felice, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service: “Our trucks had the highest transaction prices and lowest incentive spend. There was a move in incentive spend by competitors, which can have short-term impact on share.”

Felice said he sees “very solid fundamentals on demand for pickups” due to upticks in the housing and energy industries: “We’re very pleased with how our prices are holding up with new product coming late this year.

“We are on plan as we manage the changeover” to the 2015 F-150, Felice told journalists and analysts on the company’s monthly sales call. “We’re building inventories in summer into fall and we’re right on that glide path.”

Said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book: “Ford’s drop in sales reflects the automaker’s product launch cycle, which has been reduced over the past two years but is about to ramp up. Ford’s most important model, the top-selling F-150, is transitioning from the outgoing steel model to an all-new aluminum truck with upgraded engine technology.”

The Escape, usually Ford’s third-biggest seller, dropped 13 percent to 25,110 units and was passed by the Focus, which rose 14 percent to 26,266. The Fusion sedan gained 14 percent to 27,604 units, a June record and second only to the F series for the month in overall unit sales.

The Ford Transit commercial van made its sales debut with 490 units. The Transit is replacing the outgoing E-series van, which has been the mainstay of Ford’s large commercial van business for three decades.

Ford’s Transit Connect van posted a record month with sales of 4,573, up 30 percent.

The Lincoln MKZ, which had been on a roll in recent months as Lincoln’s leading seller, dropped 6 percent to 2,990 units. Through the first six months of the year, MKZ sales are up 31 percent.

Felice explained the June decline in MKZ sales by saying that fleet sales were off 75 percent, while retail sales were flat.

The MKC mid-sized crossover has just gone on sale, registering 684 units for the month. Overall, Lincoln sales are up 16 percent year to date.

Of the three categories of vehicles in the Ford Motor Co. portfolio, cars fared best in June with a 1 percent drop. Utilities declined 8 percent and trucks 9 percent.

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


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