DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.'s new Fiesta subcompact had its strongest sales month since its launch in late May.
Ford executives say there is more room for sales growth going forward as it restocks dealer lots with the car.
“I don't think we've hit our stride yet,” Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said during a sales conference call. “The shelves are about 85 percent stocked. We have not hit the ceiling on that at all, so we're very optimistic.”
Ford Motor Co.'s October sales rose 15 percent compared with a year earlier. Part of that rise was due to strong retail sales, particularly in cars, which were up 20 percent last month compared with a year earlier. Ford said fleet sales rose 11 percent last month.
For the first 10 months, Ford Motor's car sales are up 14 percent.
The Fiesta launch initially suffered a setback when a hurricane damaged railroad lines used to transport the cars to the United States from the plant where they are built in Mexico States.
But Ford sold 3,846 Fiestas in October. It has sold 14,588 Fiestas so far this year.
Czubay says customers are ordering extra features, such as leather seats, on most Fiestas. They're paying as much as $3,000 to $4,000 above the $13,995 base sticker price. That price includes shipping.
“It's been just the vehicle that we had predicted it would be. A small shadow on the ground, but loaded with equipment,” Czubay said. “At this point, we're pleased but not yet satisfied.”
Czubay said Ford planned the Fiesta for a sales environment with gasoline prices above $3 a gallon. Gasoline prices remain below that level in most U.S. regions. The fact that the car is generating this much interest with low gasoline prices proves there is more upside potential, he said.
In other news, the newly launched Lincoln MKZ hybrid accounted for 25 percent of the MKZ's total October sales. Ford sold 1,850 MKZs last month, up 11 percent from October 2009, Ford said.
“You could say, ‘How come it's not more?'” said George Pipas, Ford's U.S. sales analyst. “It's higher than what we've seen on the Fusion hybrid, which ranged in the 10 percent to 15 percent of total retail sales for the Fusion.”
Czubay said that dealers are experiencing about a 60 percent conquest rate on sales of the MKZ hybrid.