DETROIT -- A strong retail performance couldn’t help Ford Motor Co. overcome a decline in fleet sales as the automaker’s January sales fell 0.7 percent compared with the same month a year ago.
Ford’s fleet sales to rental companies, government agencies and commercial businesses represented 30.2 percent of its total sales last month, and fell 13 percent compared with January 2016, when Ford’s fleet sales were front-loaded.
Retail sales, however, jumped 6 percent last month thanks to a strong mix of high-priced trucks, SUVs and luxury cars. Highlights included a 13 percent increase for F-series, and a 22 percent bump for the automaker’s Lincoln brand.
“The new year brought strong consumer demand for F-series, Lincoln and record SUV sales, especially high-end models,” Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. “This drove near-record company average transaction prices for Ford, up $2,500 versus a year ago and far outpacing the overall January industry increase of $550.”
LaNeve said Ford’s average transaction price for its F-series trucks was a record $46,400 last month, up $3,800 over a year ago. F-series incentives were $3,800 per truck, which Ford says is $1,000 lower than its nearest competitor.
The automaker late last year began selling a redesigned Super Duty, and LaNeve said 65 percent of Super Duty sales in January were of the top three most expensive trim levels.
Ford’s SUV sales rose 6 percent last month to 53,244 -- a record January. The SUV sales were paced by the Expedition, which rose 42 percent. The Escape, up 7.1 percent to 20,588 units, had a record January.
Ford said its dealer stock is down about 50,000 units to 563,144, and most of that decline is in the passenger car segment.
Car sales tumbled 18 percent last month, although sales of the subcompact Fiesta rose 39 percent thanks to strong incentives, which Ford began in late 2016. On the Lincoln side, car sales rose 32 percent thanks to 1,167 Continental deliveries.
The automaker expects a January SAAR in the low- to mid-17 million unit range.
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