DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. light-vehicle sales fell 10 percent in the fourth quarter, even as the automaker began deliveries of new nameplates it hopes will buoy sales in 2021. For the full year, the company's sales fell 15 percent to 2.03million.
In addition to the continuing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Ford navigated a number of launches in the year's final months, including the Bronco Sport crossover in November, followed by the Mustang Mach-E and a redesigned F-150 pickup in December. To date, Ford has sold 5,120 Bronco Sports and three Mach-Es.
Those early deliveries helped overall SUV sales, which rose 4.7 percent in the quarter. Truck sales fell 13 percent while car sales plummeted 42 percent.
Because of the pandemic's effect on vehicle production, Ford never built up an adequate supply of 2020 F-150s heading into the changeover to the redesigned model, which hurt pickup sales, according to Erich Merkle, head of U.S. sales analysis. He said Ford was working to build as many redesigned F-150s as possible to satisfy demand and that the 2021 pickups were turning after just six days on dealer lots.
Ford had a 53-day supply of F-Series pickups in December, down from a 77-day supply a year earlier, Merkle said.
In December, Ford sales fell 3.9 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, although Merkle told Automotive News that the company's retail sales rose 5.2 percent in the month.
Merkle said the company's retail sales have recovered more quickly than fleet and was cautiously optimistic that the recovery would continue into 2021.
For the full year, F-Series sales fell 12 percent to 787,422, but Ford retained the title of America's bestselling pickup line for the 44th consecutive year.
Mustang sales for 2020 fell 16 percent to 61,090, but it kept the pony car crown for the sixth-straight year.
The Explorer beat out the Toyota Highlander to become the top-selling large crossover with full-year sales of 226,217, up 21 percent. Toyota sold 212,276 Highlanders in 2020.
Brands: Ford, down 10%; Lincoln, down 7% in Q4
Notable nameplates Q4: Ford F-Series, down 15%; Mustang, down 21%; Explorer, up 29%; Escape, down 1.8%; Ranger, down 18%; Transit, up 2.7%; Transit Connect, down 8.4%; Lincoln Corsair, up 6.6%; Aviator, up 13%; Navigator, down 7.6%
Incentives: $4,595 per vehicle, down 3.0% from a year earlier, TrueCar says
Average transaction price: $44,132, up 5.4% from a year earlier, according to TrueCar
Inventory: 426,000 vehicles in December, representing a 57-day supply. That's down from 645,000, a 74-day supply, in December 2019.
Quote: "Fourth quarter represented an inflection point at Ford in our transition from cars to a much greater focus on iconic trucks and SUVs to better serve our customers," Andrew Frick, Ford's vice president of U.S. and Canada sales, said in a statement. "We began to see our strongest evidence of this in December with retail sales up 5.3 percent, which coincides with the launch of our all-new F-150, Bronco Sport and Mustang Mach-E. We are well positioned to see the benefits of our focused efforts throughout 2021."
Did you know? Lincoln ended U.S. production of the Continental sedan in December, officially making it a utility-only brand.