DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales in March were its highest since May 2007, the company said today, led by sales of pickups and crossovers.
The automaker's sales rose 6 percent to 235,643 units, as Ford-brand sales rose 7 percent and Lincoln sales slumped 23 percent.
Ford racked up record monthly sales for its hot 2013 Fusion sedan but warned that sales in coming months might be constrained by capacity issues.
"Record customer sales and particularly strong demand in California and Florida will begin to place some constraints on supply starting in the coming months, which is why we are adding Fusion capacity at our Flat Rock, Michigan, facility this fall," Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told journalists and analysts during Ford's monthly sales call today.
"Our fastest turning area in the country for Fusion continues to be California with Fusion spending just 14 days on dealer lots," he said.
Fusion, Escape set monthly highs
Both the Fusion sedan and the Escape compact crossover posted a record sales month, climbing 6 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
Ford also got a boost from F-series pickup sales, which shot up 16 percent as overall pickup sales continue to outpace the industry, boosted by a recovery in housing.
Fusion sales crossed the 30,000 monthly and 80,000 quarterly sales levels for the first time since it was introduced in 2005 as a 2006 model, Ford said.
The hot Fusion may have hurt its smaller sibling, the Focus, which dropped 12 percent for the month, one of the few Ford nameplates to see a decline in March. Erich Merkle, Ford's U.S. sales analyst, attributed the decline mainly to lower small-car sales overall.
The Fusion currently is built only at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant. That factory has been a pinch point for Ford, producing both the Fusion and the new Lincoln MKZ, which were launched in rapid succession last fall and early this year.
The Fusion was launched first, followed by the MKZ. Ford has had struggles with both launches. A combination of additional quality inspections, parts shortages and quality glitches forced Ford to ship MKZs from Hermosillo to the Flat Rock factory earlier this year for final inspections.
Those shipments have stopped, and Czubay said the backlog of cars in Flat Rock is "a very small number now."
The company said the flow of MKZ sedans is increasing as the company makes up lost ground.
'On plan with MKZs'
"We have delivered about 4,600 to dealers," Czubay said. "The pace picked up dramatically during the month. We're going to be on plan with MKZs in dealer inventories."
Once dealers get MKZs, they move quickly, Czubay said. New MKZs are spending an average of 14 days on dealer lots, while the MKZ Hybrid moves in eight days, he said.
Czubay said 54 percent of buyers of the redesigned MKZ are under age 60, while 28 percent are under 50. Lincoln owners are among the industry's oldest, averaging about 65 years old.