By on July 1, 2010

Without Volvo, Ford sold 170,900 units last month, for a 15 percent increase compared to June 2009, when the industry was mired in one of its worst years ever. Compared to last month, Ford’s sales (like many other automakers’) were down considerably from their 196,671 unit level. That’s yet another indication of the market’s overall weakness, but Ford’s got its own special problems as well. Even after the announced death of Mercury, Lincoln is nosediving, failing to top its June 2009 number of 7,137 units. At 6,318 units, Ford sold fewer Lincolns last month than GM sold Tahoes. Ouch. Meanwhile, Mercury blithely outsold its fellow premium brand by a healthy margin, moving 9,250 units. Otherwise, the news at Ford was “steady.”

Taurus was the big winner at Ford, cruising from 2,268 units last June to 6,607 units, making it by far the biggest gainer at Ford. Fiesta started its first (limited) month of sales at 1,028 units, while MUstang outsold the Camaro at 8,974 units. F-Series was up nearly 30 percent. And, for better or for worse, Ford did not increase or decrease its retail or fleet share, with both rising 15 percent. With sales so ridiculously steady for most of Ford’s top sellers, we’re guessing the Taurus fleet sales have begun, making that car look more and more like a Flex-level flop.

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43 Comments on “Ford “Core Brands” Up 15 Percent, Down From May...”


  • avatar
    NulloModo

    The Taurus sales have nothing to do with fleets. I can’t remember exactly when the 2010 model debuted last year, but if it was even out at all in June, the inventory was so ridiculously limited that no one had any to sell. Taurus numbers are tracking pretty straight for what they have been for the last several months with the current bodystyle.

    As for Fiesta, a limited sales month is putting it mildly. Most dealership, if they were lucky, had them on lots for three to five days for the month of June, and maybe got one or two cars. Selling over 1000 in that timeframe leads me to think this car is going to put up huge numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      JeremyR

      Ford counts the sale when the car is shipped to the dealer, no? That makes 1,028 Fiesta sales seem more reasonable. (As far as I know, these cars are still not on the ground in Colorado–and I’ve asked.)

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Jeremy –

      I think they quote sales as actual dealer sales to people, not units sold to dealers. Looking at the chart above it shows 23 Low Cab Forwards and 513 Taurus X sales for June 2009. The Low Cab Forward was definitely out of production at that point, and I’m 99% sure the Taurus X was as well.

    • 0 avatar
      JeremyR

      Good point there. I’ll keep my eye out for those Fiestas!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Lincoln’s problem is another example of the malaise affecting the near-luxury market. There’s no point to Lincoln (as it stands today) any more, any more than there’s a point to Saab, Volvo or Acura. If they’re not careful, Subaru, VW and Buick will see similar problems.

    Or, put it this way: the Taurus is more than good enough for most people and the people for whom it’s not good enough for are going to shop BMW/MB/Audi/Lexus.

    The more I think about it, the more I suspect Ford may have made a strategic error (though, tactically, they had no choice) in selling Jaguar and Land Rover instead of Volvo.

    • 0 avatar
      Audi-Inni

      I couldn’t disagree more with your statement about Jaguar and Land Rover. Both were money pits. I understand your point about their being full-on luxury as opposed to “near” like Volvo, but Volvo was doing well when they had product to sell. Ford has bled them of product waiting for sale and with the uncertainty over Chinese ownership, may impact them more. They also have a muddled strategy of trying to compete with the premiums when they never will. The XC60 shows they can make a compelling product, but one product does not make an entire brand. The XC90, while still good, is ancient – the S60 even moreso.

  • avatar

    Lincoln is screwed because so many are now being “sold” at Ford dealers. By Ford salespeople. And who in their right mind will push an MKS/MKZ when the Taurus Limited/SHO does 99% of the Lincolns for less?

    I wager the Taurus is doing so well because it’s parked next to the marble floors of the Lincoln display area in a Ford dealer.

    And with Lincoln-Mercury dealers dying out, expect this trend to continue.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Lincoln is screwed because so many are now being “sold” at Ford dealers. By Ford salespeople

      I’m not sure this is the direct problem. Toyota and VW commonly sell Lexus and Audi beside their own (often, but not always, by the same people), while Honda rarely does the same with Acura.

      The problem is product, not positioning, and you’re right about the MKZ and MKS being “why bother” cars next to the Fusion and Taurus. If Lincoln had better stuff this wouldn’t be an issue, much as it’s not an issue to park the Lexus LS600hL fifty feet from the Corolla CE.

      Had they kept up with the trend set by the LS, they might be there now.

      You have to give Lincoln some credit, though: at least they didn’t blow the kind of money GM did at Cadillac only to have a gussied-up midsizer (the XTS) as their range-topper.

    • 0 avatar

      I have yet to see a Toyota/Lexus or VW/Audi dealership that shares the same showroom, much less the same real estate.

      If you think Product is the problem, admitting that the Fusion and Taurus (and Expedition and Flex, actually) are big threats to Lincoln, wouldn’t the shared showroom space further amplify the problem? By, like, making it several million times worse or something? :)

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      @sajeev:

      I bought 2 new VW’s from a dealer who had VW and Audi in the same showroom in CT.

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      I think the Mustang platform is good enough, now that the new engines are in it, to be the basis for a four-door RWD sports sedan (IRS, not live axle) for Lincoln. It makes use of what Ford already has, but is distinct enough that it wouldn’t be just a Ford in a tux.

      I know that the Mustang is based off the old LS, but, in this case, with the new 5.0 and EcoBoost 6, and a more refined chassis, a RWD Lincoln becomes more compelling as a (dare I say it?) 3-series alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Mustang’s platform is certainly solid enough that it could lead to a credible 3 series fighter, but there are a couple big obstacles –

      1. Money. Ford is spending a ton to get the Ford house in shape and current. This makes sense, as the Ford brand will always be higher volume (and is in fact the highest volume brand in the country). Ford needs to keep the steady profits rolling in and get Ford in good shape before they start dumping lot of money into fixing up Lincoln.

      2. If they build it, will people buy it? The LS was dynamically a strong car, and probably every bit as good as the first generation CTS, it was good, but still had some problems. Still, it never sold well, and Ford eventually just pulled the plug. Lincoln has an image problem. It’s considered by many people to just be a brand for old people. The people buying 3 series and the like are younger compared to the average luxury car buyer, and younger than the average Lincoln buyer. Ford has been trying hard to target the Lincoln brand at a younger demographic with the high-tech commercials and focusing on technology like Sync and MyLincoln Touch, and has been able to do that without spending too much money as all of that tech goes into Fords as well.

      It’s something of a catch-22, you can’t build a sportier luxury car aimed at a younger buyer until you have some younger buyers paying attention to your cars, and you can’t get younger buyers paying attention to your cars until you build some cars they are interested in.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I have yet to see a Toyota/Lexus or VW/Audi dealership that shares the same showroom, much less the same real estate.

      The dealership where I bought my Sienna does exactly that (hence the name, “Don Valley North Lexus/Toyota”), as do most several of the other Toronto- area Toyota/lexus dealers. Hell, the tiny little VW dealer nearest where I live (Peterborough VW) has an Audi franchise, and I’ve seen a few more. I can think of only one Audi franchise without a VW one and I have never seen a Lexus dealer that isn’t paired with a Toyota one.

      This might be a Canadian thing, now that I think about it.

      wouldn’t the shared showroom space further amplify the problem?

      If Ford doesn’t fix that product problem then yes, absolutely. Lincoln service is nice, but it’s not good enough to give Lincoln a raison d’etre when the products certainly don’t.

      But keeping Lincoln separate won’t help matters much, either: Mercury is useless and pairing Lincoln up with any other pseudo-luxury brand in the same showroom** doesn’t do Lincoln any favours. Folding Lincoln back into Ford at least cuts the operational costs of maintaining the network.

      ** Except possible Acura, who has exactly the same problem, and Mini, who is as far from Lincoln as it gets.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      This might be a Canadian thing, now that I think about it.

      It might be.

      I’ve personally never seen a Toyota/Lexus combination dealer. A great number of the stand alone Lexus dealers around here are styled to look like a Saudi palace and just about zero look like a traditional car dealership.

      Every time I’ve been in one, it was extremely nice, and I’d venture that the Lexus dealership experience is a major selling point for the brand.
      ____________________
      I have seen a few VW/Audi/Porsche combination dealers.

      However, it is very rare for me to see a stand alone Lincoln or Cadillac shop. They are always combined with Ford or Chevrolet/Buick/GMC.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “Toyota and VW commonly sell Lexus and Audi beside their own (often, but not always, by the same people)”

      Hmmm, I have never seen a Lexus dealer twinned with anything else in the same showroom in the US. As to Audi, the few times I’ve seen Audi dealers twinned it was with Porsche.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Can’t understand why Ford is killing Mercury right now. Why not keep Milan/Mariner in production until suitable higher volume Lincoln models can be produced. Seems like they want to kill off Lincoln dealers as stand-alones.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Ford doesn’t need to kill off stand alone Lincoln stores. There isn’t a single LM store in the country that could survive as a stand alone Lincoln dealership.

      Every LM store in existence is either preparing to close or trying to add additional franchise(s).

  • avatar
    jaje

    Can you please stop comparing sales to the month prior (May 2010). It gives little relevance to their performance. The best comparison is the previous years respective month, thus June 2009.

    • 0 avatar

      Is it OK that we compared to both June 09 and May 2010? At this point, we need both numbers as we have nothing resembling a “normal” baseline for US auto sales.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Yes and no. Comparison to years prior has been pretty much useless over the last two years because the bottom dropped out of the economy. Month-prior is, if anything, the more useful metric.

      Or, to put it another way, a trained chimpanzee should be able to sell more product in 2010 than 2009.

      Perhaps sales versus the last “respectable” year might be more useful?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Month to month can be problematic though as there are certain months that, year over year, are always better than other months.

      Factors like tax refund checks, buying vehicles for tax writeoff purposes, new models becoming available, previous model years with increased incentives, and general low inventory situations during model year changeover all effect sales. Weather also obviously plays a big role, people don’t shop for cars as often in the dead of winter up north, nor in the sweltering heat of summer in the south.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Agree comparing months like August to July will be worthless b/c August is the big month for certain automakers to clear out previous model year cars.

      I understand that the bottom dropped off compared to last year but the previous months sales are not a significant measure now or in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Ah, but there is clearly a bit of monthly seasonality in the car business. June is traditionally a slightly soft month as many people turn their attention to summer vacations. Also, many shoppers know that next year’s models are only a few months away as are the end of year clearance sales for current models.

      So, comparing June to May is generally not as informative as one might think.

      For a more extreme example, imagine comparing Toys R’ Us January sales results to the prior month. It will always look horrible.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Haven’t seen any Fiestas here in the Detroit area. Dealer says they keep promising to ship, but none so far.

  • avatar
    SV

    I’m surprised at the Fiesta numbers considering there aren’t any in dealerships.

    Taurus sales are probably not due to fleets – it’s been outperforming 2009 sales by 100-200% consistently, all year.

    Not really getting why Fusion sales are so flat (even down slightly?) when it’s been selling better than ’09 every month until now. Weird.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The 2010 Fusion was an early model release, so by this time last year there were plenty of 2010s on lots. What we are seeing now is a comparison of 2010 vs 2010 model sales while before it was 2010 vs 2009 model sales.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Ah, that makes sense. Another annoyance, though (as a semi-Ford fan) is that the Malibu outsold the Fusion by 2k units this month even though it’s usually been the other way around for a year now. In fact Malibu sales are up 80% this month without any refreshes or other important changes. I’d guess a softening of bailout backlash plus pretty heavy fleet sales? Considering how heavy GM fleet sales were in June, that seems likely.

      Also, in response to the original post, for a $25k-plus full-size car, 6-7k sales a month is quite good – hardly a Flex-level flop. There may be some fleet sales of base SE models but I think the Taurus is largely retail sales now. At any rate, the Fusion is the volume model, while the Taurus is the flagship. Considering that, and the fact that the average Taurus likely crests 30 grand, selling 75,000 a year (at the rate they’re going) is pretty good.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Lincoln is doomed. Ford cannot afford to create truly distictive and desirable Lincolns for just the North American market. Selling Lincolns and Fords together is also problematic, luxury buyers do not want to mix with the “little people”.

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      Wrong again. If Ford may or may not have the money remains to be seen, however Volkswagen/Audi and Toyota/Lexus have joint dealerships across Canada and some parts of the U.S.

  • avatar
    Buffs Fan

    Sales months in the auto industry don’t follow the calendar month. They always begin or end on a business day. So if the last day of month is on the weekend or holiday, the “sales month” carries into the next “calendar month”. For example, April 30th was on a Friday, so April sales ended on that day, and May began on the next day, May 1st. May 31st was on a Holiday (Memorial Day), so the May sales month didn’t end until June 1st. So when you are looking at the May sales numbers, if is for May 1 – June 1. June sales numbers are for June 2 – June 30. That’s one of the reasons why there was a decline from May to June, as May was a much longer sales month (32 days versus 29 days, and 5 weekends versus 4 weekends). Another is that Memorial Day weekend is one of the big sales event weekends in the auto industry. Probably the best way to look at the business is May to June changes in year over year sales. So if May 2010 was up more over May 2009 than June 2010 was up over June 2009, then May was stronger than June.

  • avatar
    Motorhead10

    These are wholesale numbers – sales to the dealers. Manufacturers do not sell directly to the consumer. Manufacturers reporting retail sales would mean the company is reporting somebody else’s sales – specifically the dealer network. They can’t do that. They report their own sales. Interested parties have gotten wise and the fleet vs retail mix has become important. A sale is a sale, but fleet vehicles are low-content, low (if any) margin vehicles. They help cover fixed costs and generate cash flow, but hurt brand image, residuals, and thus pricing power. Vehicles can still be shipped to dealers in months subsequent to the discontinuation of production. It could be months later in which the final Obsoletemobile goes out to a dealership. That would be the month in which the sale would be counted by the manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      No, this is sales by dealers. All Ford dealers report all new vehicle sales to Ford for purposes of future inventory allocation as well as sales tracking.

      Here is a quote from the Ford Sales Release .pdf that can be found here.

      Note: The sales data included in this release and the accompanying tables are based largely on data reported by dealers representing their sales to retail and fleet customers.

      Also, not all fleet sales are low margin. While rental fleets tend to buy stripped down vehicles, fleet sales also include construction and utility companies, which often buy high-margin specialty equipment add-ons, as well as company fleet cars which, while usually not loaded, are often at least mid-level options-wise.

    • 0 avatar
      Motorhead10

      @NulloModo

      I stand corrected. Thanks. The strange thing about a manufacturer reporting dealer numbers is the reconciliation of operating data to the financial data. The company will report dealer retail and fleet sales as its own, yet book revenue on the wholesale transaction? Bizarre. If the company gets the dealer network sales data for “future inventory allocation as well as sales tracking” – fine. Use it for that. But those are not FORD’s unit “sales” since they don’t own the dealerships. Crappy transparency in my opinion. Not blaming Ford – just sayin’

      If rental fleet sales are low-margin and municipality/utility/construction are mid-margin – would you happen to know the mix between the two sub-segments – as a % of total fleet sales?

    • 0 avatar
      Motorhead10

      Here’s the fleet breakout for 2009 – 30% of total US Car & Truck

      rental 205 42.0%
      commercial 156 32.0%
      Gov’t 127 26.0%

      @Nullo – I stand corrected – thanks. Seems odd the company would report dealership sales instead of wholesale units when Item 1 in Business section of the annual report reads:
      “The profitability of our business is affected by many factors, including:
      § Wholesale unit volumes;”

      But we’ll report retail volumes anyway – since they don’t tie back to the revenue line in the income statement.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Wholesale (Ford to dealers) and retail (dealers to customers) are intimately related.

      If a dealer wants to keep their doors open and stay on the good side of Ford (which is important for both floorplan issues and for having incentives and rebates reimbursed) they need to buy a certain number of vehicles in a certain mix from Ford every month.

      Manufacturers can pretty much force the hand of the dealer to buy whatever they want if that dealer wants to get what sells well. For example, my dealer may sell 230 new Fords in a month, and Ford may offer us 170 in allocation for the next month. Obviously, we need to at least get as many cars as we sold to keep inventory up, so they may offer us an additional number of units of a high selling model that we can easily make some profit on if we agree to accept so many of another model that might be harder to sell, but that Ford makes good money on selling to the dealer.

      It’s all a game of give and take. Ford doesn’t want to drive any dealer into the ground, but they aren’t going to let the dealer buy just what the dealer wants regardless of Ford’s bottom line either. So, in order to get an extra 10 Taurus SELs and Limiteds, which are stupidly easy to sell here, we might have to agree to take an extra SHO, which makes Ford more money, but for us, with out customer demographic, is harder to move.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Akitadog: How about a Mustang based 4-door Lincoln Continental Convertible with suicide doors? Nevermind, they’d probably ruin it by calling it the MKLCC.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Unfortunately it is hard to view the graphics in these threads as your eyes assume the brighter and more pronounced red color (compared to a muted light gray) is June 2010 and not June 2009. Also making this harder is the older month is on top of each column / row of comparison. The color and format of the graphs portray June 2009 over June 2010 – when it should be vice versa.

  • avatar
    Motorhead10

    @NulloModo
    I stand corrected. Just seems like questionable transparency to report sales that are dealership sales -technically not even your own sales. To use these numbers for “purposes of future inventory allocation” – fine. But why report sales numbers that do not tie directly back to your income statement?

    If rental fleet sales are low margin and municipality/construction/utility sales are mid-margin, would you happen to know the mix breakdown of those two sub-segments as a % of total fleet sales?

  • avatar
    geeber

    When comparing Lincoln sales to Mercury sales, remember that most Lincolns are considerably more expensive than any Mercury. I would hope that Mercury would outsell Lincoln.

    If sales stay at about 6,300 units per month, Lincoln would be on track to sell about 75,000 vehicles this year. Which is hardly stellar, I agree, but Lincoln sold about that many cars each year during the severe 1980-82 recession, when there was less competition.

  • avatar
    niky

    Does it worry anyone else that a lot of these new sales are big car and truck sales (looking at all of the sales numbers)? Which means that even this slight upward trend won’t last much past the next oil price hike?

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “Steady”, or as MKF said, “flatline”?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ouch, the ancient Explorer is outselling the Flex two-to-one. Hopefully the new Explorer being released on the Flex’ platform will not suffer the same fate. Someone at Ford is sweating about that question right now!


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