DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. still wants to sell 900,000 F-series pickups in 2005. But the year is slipping away with plenty of trucks yet to sell.
On Wednesday, Dec. 14, Ford was still shy of the goal by 65,400 trucks. That's more than it sold in all of November.
It's a tall order for dealers to sell that many in the final two weeks of December, especially with holidays.
Ford acknowledges that the 900,000 F-series target will be tough to achieve. But it isn't giving up. A dealer bonus program offers as much as $1,000 a truck sold in December. Ford is counting on dealers to crank up sales.
"This is not an easy task, but we have everybody focused on it," said Al Giombetti, Ford vice president of sales.
The F-series goal is a rallying point. An electronic ticker board at Ford's sales headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., counts down sales needed to reach 900,000. Still, Giombetti isn't promising a December like a year ago. Then, big incentives carried the F series to 95,392 in monthly sales. Ford sold a record of 939,5118 F-150s last year.
"Don't forget: The truck was also a year newer," Giombetti said. "And that's why we're fighting to get to 900,000 -- because we're another year down the road."
Even if the F series fails to break the 900,000 mark, it will still be the top-selling pickup in the United States. The runner-up Chevrolet Silverado trailed the F-150 by 174,761 units through November.
Giombetti said Ford doesn't plan to enhance F-series incentives. In addition to dealer bonuses, the F series carries "Keep it Simple" supplier-level pricing. Ford offers $2,500 cash rebates on most models.
But that may not be enough.
"You could very easily sell another 35,000 to 40,000 trucks, so that would take you up to 880,000 or something like that," said Tom Addis, who is chairman of the Ford national dealer council. He is dealer principal at Lake City Ford in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. "We will have to have a hell of a last two weeks to make the 900,000."
Jerry Reynolds of Prestige Ford in Garland, Texas, says it can be done.
"We're all focused on it, and we all want to make it," said Reynolds, one of Ford's largest F-series dealers, in an e-mail. "Rarely do we miss a goal when we're all on the same page like now."
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