Ford Motor Co. will hold fourth-quarter North American production at the same level as the third-quarter of this year and slightly below the last quarter of 2009 because of the economy's modest recovery and lackluster consumer spending.
“Elevated savings rates are dampening spending,” and buyers are replacing cars on an as-needed basis, said Emily Kolinksi Morris, Ford's senior U.S. economist. She categorized the recovery as moderate “but not a collapse.”
Ford said it plans to produce 570,000 vehicles in the third and fourth quarters of 2010. During the last three months of 2009, Ford produced 574,000 vehicles.
“We are keeping production steady, and this is consistent with the sales pattern we have seen in the industry in the last six months,” said George Pipas, Ford's U.S. sales analyst. “We see a steady, stable sales pattern.”
Ford's August sales fell 11 percent to 157,327 vehicles compared to a year ago, when the company benefited from brisk sales during the government's cash-for-clunkers program.
The latest sales numbers exclude Volvo, which was sold to China's Geely.
Ford's U.S. sales have increased 18 percent this year to 1.28 million units, reflecting strong demand for trucks, which are up 27 percent year-to-date, as well as newer models such as the Ford Taurus and Fiesta.
Among all industry brands that did well during last year's clunker's program, Pipas noted that Ford was the only brand in August “to have achieved a retail market share gain on top of last year's performance.”
Ford's August retail sales were 19 percent lower than a year earlier, but fleet sales were up 26 percent.
“The entire fleet increase was in the commercial fleet area,” where F-series truck and Econoline van sales were strong, said Pipas. “Sales to commercial fleets doubled from last August's levels.”