DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. posted double-digit declines for 11 of its 22 U.S. nameplates last month as its light-vehicle sales fell 8.1 percent from what it described as an unusually strong September 2015.
Ford said its light-truck sales were down 2.9 percent, while cars plunged 21 percent. Sales declined 2.6 percent for the company’s top-selling vehicle, the F-series pickup.
“We’re very pleased with the month -- just had a tough year-over-year comp,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, said on a conference call with analysts and reporters today. “It was not just a good month last year; it was far and away our best month” of 2015.
LaNeve said stronger pricing shows that last month was better than the year-over-year sales comparisons suggest. Ford’s average transaction price rose $1,100 from a year ago, helped by the launch of the redesigned Super Duty pickup, nearly triple the industry’s gain of about $400, he said.
The 2017 Super Duty, which began arriving at dealerships in August, achieved an average transaction price of about $62,000 last month, with high-end Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trims accounting for 80 percent of sales, LaNeve said.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor’s incentive spending rose an average of $290 per vehicle from a year ago, but that also was better than the industry average of $430, he said.
“There was a lot of incentive activity -- very aggressive sales events for the Labor Day period,” LaNeve said.
A big contributor to Ford Motor’s September decline was a planned dropoff in fleet sales. Ford filled a number of orders earlier in the year than usual, and its fleet sales fell 22 percent in September. Fewer deliveries to rental-car companies accounted for most of that decline.
Ford said its retail sales slid about 4 percent in the month.
Sales for the Lincoln brand rose 1.3 percent. Lincoln dealers sold 775 of the new Continental sedan, which began arriving last month. That helped the brand achieve a 16 percent gain in car sales, vs. a 6.2 percent decline for Lincoln’s utility vehicles.
Sales fell 18 percent for the Ford Fusion sedan and 12 percent for the Ford Escape crossover, both of which were freshened this year. LaNeve said those vehicles have had trouble achieving volume increases because rivals are still selling large numbers of discounted 2016 models in those highly competitive segments.
But the average transaction price for the Escape rose about $500 last month, compared with a $360 decrease for the segment overall, said Ford’s chief U.S. sales analyst, Erich Merkle.
September was the first month in which the Chevrolet Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang since October 2014. Mustang sales dropped 32 percent -- its fifth consecutive month-over-month decline -- to 6,429 units, which also was the car’s lowest tally since October 2014.
Through the first three quarters of 2016, Ford Motor’s sales were 0.6 percent ahead of the same period last year, a difference of just 11,811 units.