"It's a challenging, daunting task, given the increased number of dealers representing foreign manufacturers and the expansion of their product lines," Pipas said. "And look out over your shoulder. Here comes China."
Apparently, Ford dealers were ticked off by Chevrolet's sales victory in 2005 after Ford had led for 18 years. The Ford brand thrashed Chevy in March, winning the sales race by 22,834 units. For three months, Ford led by 46,085. Chevy is 13,579 cars ahead of Ford so far this year, but Ford dominates truck sales with an edge of 59,664.
Big pickup wars
In March, the Ford brand weathered a tough incentive fight led by Dodge in the big pickup segment. Dodge offered $2,000 to $3,000 to buyers of 2006 Ram pickups. In addition, the dealer incentive was $1,000 to $6,000.
Customer rebates on the 2006 Ford F-series pickups were $2,000 to $2,500, and the 2006 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra paid $1,500 to $2,500. There also was a $500 giveback on the Silverado and Sierra 2500/3500 models with the LBZ turbodiesel V-8. No dealer incentives were listed on the GM and Ford pickups.
The incentives helped Ford and Dodge more than GM. Ram sales were up 8.9 percent in March, and Ford's F series advanced 4.5 percent for the month and 5.5 percent for the first quarter.
Pipas said F-series retail sales have been strong and so have fleet sales because of a good business climate and post-hurricane rebuilding work in the Gulf states.
In March, sales of the Silverado were down 14.9 percent, and the Sierra was off 13.3 percent. The Silverado and Sierra are reaching the end of the line. They will be new for 2007.
In April, Ford is offering cash incentives of $2,000 to $3,000 or financing rates of 0 to 7.9 percent on 2006 F-series pickups. On the 2006 Ram, the buyer givebacks have risen to $3,000 to $4,000, and the dealer rebates are the same as in March. On the Silverado and Sierra, the customer rebate has grown to $2,000 to $3,500.
You may e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at [email protected]