Ford loses ground in 2014 with F-150 changeover

Ford attributed its 2014 sales decline of about 0.6 percent on the changeover to the redesigned F-150 pickup, pictured, and a planned cutback in sales to rental-car companies. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

UPDATED: 1/5/15 6:41 pm ET - adds details

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. today reported its first year-over-year U.S. sales increase in four months, but it was one of only a few automakers to post a decline for all of 2014.

Ford said its sales rose 1 percent last month, reaching their highest December volume since 2005. It attributed the full-year decline of about 0.6 percent on the changeover to the redesigned F-150 pickup and a planned cutback in sales to rental-car companies.

“Fusion and Escape posted record years, and our newest products -- including Mustang and Transit and Lincolns -- are attracting strong customer demand,” John Felice, Ford’s vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. “Demand for the all-new F-150 also is very high, and it now is the fastest-turning vehicle in Ford showrooms, averaging just five days on dealer lots in December.”

Ford’s U.S. market share in 2014 slipped to 14.5 percent from 15.9 percent in 2013 and 15.5 percent in 2012.

Lincoln finished the year with a 16 percent increase, its biggest one-year gain since 1997. Lincoln sales surged 21 percent in December, accounting for two-thirds of the company’s 2,613-unit increase from December 2013.

The MKC crossover had its best month since being introduced last spring, posting sales of 2,310 in December and 13,077 for all of 2014, which is more than the 12,780 units that Lincoln’s sales increased on the year.

Ford said December was only the sixth month since 2006 that Ford sold more than 70,000 F-series trucks, though only about 5 percent of them were the 2015 F-150.

Felice, on a conference call with analysts and reporters, said Ford is “just now passing the halfway mark” in the F-150 transition. Dealers should have normal stock levels of the new version “around midyear,” he said.

On the year, F-series sales decreased 1 percent to 753,851 units.

But Ford said its average transaction prices for the F-series jumped $1,400 from a year ago to $40,300 last month. That number could rise higher as the new version of the F-150 becomes a larger proportion of sales.

The Fusion and Escape both tallied record 2014 sales of more than 306,000 units each. The Explorer had its best year since 2005, with sales of 189,339.

Sales of the Mustang, which was redesigned for the 2015 model year, rose 66 percent in December. On the year, Mustang fell 3,662 units short of its chief rival, the Chevrolet Camaro, with both cars posting annual gains of 7.1 percent.

Mustang was the only Ford or Lincoln car nameplate to post higher year-over-year sales in December.

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