DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co., reporting 2019 sales results three days after its rivals, said its fourth-quarter deliveries slipped 1.3 percent to 601,862.
But the numbers were enough to lift the industry above the 17 million mark for an unprecedented fifth year in a row, despite an overall decline of 1.2 percent.
Ford said it sold 598,728 light vehicles in the final three months. Its full-year sales of 2,406,188 were down 3.2 percent from 2018.
For the quarter, Ford brand sales fell 2.2 percent but Lincoln brand sales rose 18 percent on the strength of new products, including the Aviator and Corsair crossovers.
Ford's U.S. market share slipped to 14.1 percent in 2019 from 14.3 percent in 2018.
Ford's F series became the country's top-selling pickup for the 43rd-straight year, and the best-selling vehicle for the 38th year in a row. F-series sales rose 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter but fell 1.4 percent for the year to 896,526.
“It’s still a good, solid performance for the industry,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told Automotive News. “I believe the economic backdrop that supports sales is solid. We have no reason to believe any of that will be different in 2020.”
Total light-vehicle sales came in at 17.1 million. In the three years since peaking at more than 17.5 million in 2016, sales have declined 2.5 percent.
Before 2015, the only years in which automakers sold more than 17 million vehicles in the United States were 2000 and 2001.
The automaker, which plans to unveil a redesigned F-150 later this year, faces increased competition from Ram, which vaulted past the Chevrolet Silverado for second-place in the full-size pickup segment.
Ford says its pickup and van sales rose 16 percent in the quarter while utility sales dropped 4.1 percent. Sedan sales plummeted 41 percent as the company continues to phase out all cars except the Mustang.
The Mustang retained its crown as the best-selling sports car for the fifth-straight year, despite a 4.4 percent decline in sales.
The Ford Ranger finished third in the midsize pickup segment, behind the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado, after Ford revived the nameplate at the start of the 2019. The Ranger outsold the Colorado in the fourth quarter.
Lincoln’s 112,204 U.S. sales in 2019 marked its best performance since 2007 and third time in four years it surpassed 110,000, although it ranked only ninth among U.S. luxury brands, roughly 44,000 units behind crosstown rival Cadillac.
This is expected to be a busy product year for Ford. In addition to the F-150, the automaker will revive the Bronco SUV, add a small off-road crossover, launch plug-in hybrid models of its Escape and Corsair crossovers, and begin selling the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover.
LaNeve said dealer profitability for the year rose by a double-digit margin in 2019 compared to 2018, but did not provide specifics.
He said Ford will continue to wind down sales of its sedans in 2020, which could affect its sales performance, but should mostly be wrapped up by 2021.
He added: “We'll obviously be in a much better position to go after sales gains as we start to get the majority of that car volume behind us.”