DETROIT -- The October light-vehicle sales rate will pass 10 million units for the first time this year during a month that didn’t benefit from the summer cash-for-clunkers program, Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. sales chief said today.
Demand will reach the low- to mid-10 million-unit range, said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service. That’s slightly below October 2008’s rate of 10.9 million units.
The industry can continue to expect gradual improvement in the sales rate month to month, Czubay said at a meeting with journalists.
“I think the roller coaster is over,” he said. “The slope will be a little bit flatter than what people predicted six months ago.”
The Ford prediction is in line with industry expectations. Yesterday the consumer auto site Edmunds.com forecast a 10.35 million-unit sales rate, while the market research firm J.D. Power and Associates has predicted demand will reach 10.3 million units. General Motors Co. predicted a 10.5 million-unit rate earlier this week.
Close to last year
Ford’s sales are “pretty close” to last year’s numbers, Czubay said, but he declined to predict whether the company will see a year-over-year sales increase.
“With one more weekend, it’s too close to call,” he said. “I know we’re going to bring a balanced performance, I know we’re going to bring an increase in cars, I know we’re going to bring an increase in [crossovers], and I know we’re going to bring a pretty darn good increase in the new products.”
The Fusion and Taurus sedans are having a good month, Czubay said. In addition, the F-150 pickup and its Super Duty versions have increased their share year over year, said Ford sales analyst George Pipas.
Pipas predicted automakers’ incentive spending this month will fall 15 percent from last October. Ford’s incentives have declined 30 percent from October 2008, he said.
Most of this month’s Ford incentives are on trucks, Czubay said. Much of last year’s incentives were also weighted toward trucks, as Ford discounted models to make room for the new F-150 in October 2008.
Industrywide sales had languished at 27-year lows earlier this year. They had not exceeded 9.9 million units this year until the federal government’s cash-for-clunkers incentive this summer. After that program sent demand to 11.1 million units in July and 13.7 million in August, September’s rate fell to 9.5 million units.
Sales industrywide had fallen 27 percent through September.