Ford rises 5% on crossovers, higher F-150 spiffs

Ford raised incentives on the new F-150 pickup by about $1,000 per vehicle around July 8.

DETROIT -- The Ford F-series pickup achieved its first year-over-year sales increase since January as Ford Motor Co. posted an overall U.S. sales gain of 5 percent last month, to 222,014 vehicles, figures released today show.

Ford brand light-vehicle sales rose 4.4 percent, while Lincoln sales jumped 21 percent. Sales by the company are now up 2.3 percent so far this year.

F-series sales rose 4.8 percent in July to 66,288, topping the combined total of the automaker’s eight car nameplates.

Through July, F-series sales are down 1.3 percent, as changing over to the aluminum-bodied F-150 at two assembly plants led to tight inventories. Ford executives say inventories should reach normal levels by the end of September.

Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. sales, marketing and service, said Ford raised incentives on the F-150 by about $1,000 per vehicle around July 8. He said that increase was a “planned action as part of our summer selldown” rather than a reaction to the truck’s performance in the first half of the year, when its share of the pickup segment fell by 4 percentage points.

‘Good momentum’

“We gained good momentum the last three weeks of the month,” LaNeve said on a conference call today with analysts and reporters. “We’ve seen some very significant incentive moves by our competition, far in excess of what we’ve done. We think our performance is very noteworthy against that backdrop of competitive activity.”

Including the higher incentive spending, transaction prices for the F series rose $3,200 from a year ago to an average of $44,000 in July, LaNeve said. Last week, Ford said higher transaction prices for the F-150 and other newly redesigned vehicles contributed to a 44 percent increase in second-quarter net income and a record quarterly profit in North America.

Ford Motor’s utility vehicles -- a category that includes both SUVs and crossovers -- had a strong July, rising 13 percent. Sales jumped 60 percent for the Lincoln MKC, 27 percent for the Lincoln MKX, 27 percent for the Ford Explorer and 17 percent for the Ford Edge. The newly redesigned 2016 MKX began arriving at dealerships last month, helping the Lincoln brand achieve its best July sales since 2005.

Biggest not better

The Ford Escape, which was down 4.2 percent in the first half of the year, posted a 10 percent gain to 29,253 vehicles, a July record.

But sales of Ford brand’s biggest SUV, the Expedition, fell 38 percent to just 2,730, its lowest volume since January. Sales of the similar-sized Lincoln Navigator, though up 24 percent from July 2014, hit an 11-month low.

Though Ford brand’s car models were down 3.9 percent overall, Fusion sales rose 4.9 percent to a July record of 25,105. The only other Ford-brand car that did better than a year ago was the Mustang, up 29 percent. The Fiesta, C-Max and Taurus all posted sales declines of greater than 20 percent.

Sales to rental-car companies accounted for 8 percent of Ford Motor’s July sales, up from 4 percent a year ago but below the year-to-date level of 13 percent. LaNeve said the volatility is simply a product of timing and not an indication of any significant change in fleet-sale levels.

Fleets

LaNeve said Ford will deliver more F-150s to fleet buyers in the second half of the year, which likely will prevent the truck’s transaction prices from continuing to rise.

“They’ll moderate slightly, as we’ve been discussing, as we work through the model year,” LaNeve said. “We’ve been filling commercial orders to some extent since January but will do more of them in the back half of the year now that we’ve got the product really flowing.”

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