DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales rose 6 percent in September to 184,452 units, thanks to steady truck sales and continued growth from popular models such as the Fusion and Fiesta.
"Our balanced portfolio is paying dividends," Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a conference call to discuss the sales results. "We're getting the uplift from the truck business, which is recovering," he said, "but we're getting solid recovery on the car side also."
F-series pickups were up 10 percent in September to 60,456. It was Ford's fifth straight month with sales of more than 60,000 F-series pickups. The last time F-series sales hit that level for five straight months was from May through September of 2006.
About 85 percent of Ford's truck inventory is 2013 models, and incentives on the F series were up about $300 per vehicle from last September, said Erich Merkle, Ford's chief sales analyst, noting that Ford's overall incentive spending was up about $400 per vehicle from last year but down about $50 from August.
"Right now we're selling down on our 2013 model year trucks and we're transitioning into our 2014 model year," Merkle said. "On average, if you look at our incentive spend around F-series pickup, we've been incredibly consistent the entire year. We've been operating in that $4,100 to $4,500 range."
There were big gains from the Fusion, as sales of the vehicle jumped 62 percent to 19,972, making it the company's best-selling car. Ford also sold 5,043 Fiestas, a 29 percent increase.
'Almost' ready to ship
In recent months, sales have been limited by production limitations on vehicles such as the Fusion, but Ford last month began production of the Fusion at a second location, Flat Rock, Mich. The vehicles previously had been built only in Hermosillo, Mexico.
The company is "almost to the point where we're going to be shipping from Flat Rock," Merkle said. He said Ford expects Fusion sales to continue to improve throughout the year.
The Ford Escape was the company's No. 2 seller after the F series, even though sales fell 2 percent from September 2012 to 22,607.
Ford brand sales rose 6 percent to 177,999, but Lincoln sales fell 5 percent to 6,453.
The MKZ was Lincoln's best seller, up 12 percent to 2,874.