Ford F-Series sales slow prior to changeover

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DETROIT -- With Ford beginning the prolonged shutdown and changeover to the 2015 aluminum F-150, the company’s F-series sales dropped 4 percent to 68,109 units in August.

Overall, Ford Motor Co. sales ticked up a fraction of a percent as the company continued with a planned reduction in daily rental sales. Ford and Lincoln brands sold a combined 221,373, compared to 220,404 in August 2013.

“Lower F-series and lower daily rentals will temper our sales for the rest of the year,” said John Felice, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, on a conference call with reporters and analysts this morning.

But Felice said Ford is on track for a smooth changeover at its Dearborn Truck Plant, where workers began removing old equipment from the body shop in late August in preparation for the installation of new machinery dedicated to aluminum. The company has told dealers they will have stock units to sell by the end of 2014.

“We’re exactly where we want to be,” said Felice. Ford dealers have a 111-day supply of F-150s. Felice expressed confidence that the F-series will remain the industry’s best selling pickup in spite of the big changeover.

“We’re coming into this last four months of the year with a commanding lead on pace to 38th year” as the industry’s top seller,” he said. He said Ford had planned well “on inventory levels to go through this really exciting changeover.”

Overall, Ford brand rose 1 percent to 213,227 while Lincoln dropped 1 percent to 8,146.

The Fusion sedan and Escape compact crossover both posted their best August numbers ever. The Fusion shot up 20 percent to 29,452, while the Escape rose 9 percent to 28,996. The Fusion and Escape also posted their best year-to-date sales.

The Explorer full-size crossover jumped 25 percent to 17,748, the best August since 2004, Ford said. Edge sales dropped 24 percent as Ford gets ready for the introduction of the redesigned 2015 model early next year.

Sales of the Focus rose 8 percent to 22,079.

Lincoln sales dropped 0.6 percent for the month to 8,146 units. The MKZ sedan dropped 22 percent to 2,841. Felice attributed the decline to a reduction in sales to rental fleets and to a gap in inventory caused by the changeover from the 2014 model to the 2015. Through August, MKZ sales are up 18 percent.

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


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