By on November 3, 2008

Automotive News [AN sub] reports that The Blue Oval Boyz are getting that sinking feeling. And how. October sales sank 32 percent, “as the industry braced for what may be weakest monthly sales report in 25 years.” AN is, of course, parroting the party line. To wit: “An economic gauntlet, the likes of which haven’t been seen in more than two decades, could not deter Ford’s best-selling F-Series truck,” FoMoCo PR writes. “Ford dealers celebrated Truck Month by delivering 43,324 F-Series in October.” Truck month? Who knew? In Ford’s world, the October sales decline merits a single sentence: “Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales totaled 129,121 in October, down 29 percent compared with a year ago.” Yes, well, unlike our headline, that’s adjusted for sales days. Anyway, if you think that’s bad– and why wouldn’t you– Volvo sales fell 52.1 percent. Make the jump for some specific examples of bad juju.

The Edge is dead in the water (-57.9 percent). Not that it had far too fall, but sales of the Taurus X (which gets a little descriptor in the stats lest no one but owners and pistonheads knows what the Hell it is) dropped 68.4 percent. Lower gas price reigniting SUV sales my ass; sales of the once all-conquering Explorer fell by 59.2 percent. By genre, everything sucks: cars (-26.8), CUvs (-38.8), SUVs 9-53.9) and trucks (-30.3). How much of this can Ford take? Financial “pad” or no, we’re going to find out. And soon.

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37 Comments on “Ford’s October Sales Sink 32%...”


  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Why is Ford not the bigger focus in going bankrupt?

    32% drop in sales and 2 dollar share price

    vs. GM’s 6 dollar share price and probably not as bad sales drop :X

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Well, for one, the Edge dropping almost 60% is interesting. Personally, it is a completely redundant vehicle that should go away. It has the same capability as the Escape (seat 5 people, tow 3500 pounds), but is a gas hog and overpriced. No one can justify any reason for the Edge.

    What is also interesting is that the tried and true Crown Vic has seen the smallest drop of all of Fords cars year to date in terms of percentage.

    Mercury continues to justify closing the doors. Sable selling only 645 units? Milan, Mariner not even selling 2K units? SHUT THE DOORS!

    Ford is sinking fast…and these half-hearted refreshes are only helping that process. Chrysler will go before Ford, but then Ford will be next. GM has much better products that are both high in quality and priced right.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    It’s not a good trend and it means more pink slips for US autoworkers.

    How many Mercury dealers are there? It would be interesting to know since the brand only sold 6753 vehicles in October.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    I would suggest a healthy round of bonus payments to the executives and an enticement to make things better.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    What is also interesting is that the tried and true Crown Vic has seen the smallest drop of all of Fords cars year to date in terms of percentage.

    That’s because the Crown Vic, like the E-Series is practically a utility rather than a product. Try to imagine the least discretionary vehicle in existence, and it’ll be either of those two.

    Ford is sinking fast…and these half-hearted refreshes are only helping that process. Chrysler will go before Ford, but then Ford will be next. GM has much better products that are both high in quality and priced right.

    GM has exactly two products that are better than their Ford equivalents: the HHR (because Ford has nothing in this space) and the Malibu. I suppose the Impala/Allure could be said to be better in that GM gets better ROI on them then Ford does on the Taurus despite that they suck, or that the G8 is better than the nonexistent, equivalent Ford (despite it not selling enough to cover it’s cost). Everything else is more or less on par with Ford’s offerings in the same space. GM usually has the stronger powertrain, Ford the better chassis. Quality is a tougher call, but if you go by Consumer Reports, Ford has done very well here.

    Where Ford might outlast GM is in raw cash and future product. GM has, effectively, nothing, Ford has more money and hasn’t spent the last week cancelling or pushing back the exact mainstream models that would give it long-term viability.

    I’m not saying that Ford is Toyota-healthy, but they’re nowhere near as close to the wall as GM.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Well, for one, the Edge dropping almost 60% is interesting. Personally, it is a completely redundant vehicle that should go away.

    I agree with you here. The Edge doesn’t have much of a reason to exist. It’s nice and all, but the Escape is cheaper for the same capability, while the Taurus and Flex cost about the same but are much more useful–and no less efficient.

    I can see what Ford wanted–a Murano/Highlander competitor–but given that ass-kicking the Murano is taking from the Rogue, or the Highlander from the RAV/4, you’d figure they’d clue in.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I remember well the blown head gaskets and transmission problems in my Sable.

    This is Karma.

    Those cocky bastards didn’t have a care in the world when the stock was up and they were selling SUVs. Now look at them.

    Grovel some more.

  • avatar
    heaven_on_mars

    I know Ford has cut a ton of “fat” over the last couple of years. Now I think they will be cutting into the bone to try to survive. Ford of Europe seems to have strong product and if it really gets here in 2010, then Ford might survive.

  • avatar
    scrubnick

    The sole reason for the Edge’s existence is to appeal to the RX350 buyers. They look so similar I bet the body panels interchange.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The Edge was a good idea…in 2003 or so.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    Ford is sinking fast…and these half-hearted refreshes are only helping that process. Chrysler will go before Ford, but then Ford will be next. GM has much better products that are both high in quality and priced right.

    Depressingly wide of the mark. The half-hearted refreshes include things like: Flex, MKS, Taurus, Mustang, Fusion, Milan, MKT, Fiesta, F-150 and Focus. Seems not very half-hearted to me!
    Ford is just fine. GM and Chrysler have nothing! One battery car between them that even they say will not make a profit – good luck investing in them. At least Ford has a vision, new product, the best people and the financial resources to see it through – not something even the most ardent Chrysler and GM person can point to.

  • avatar
    the duke

    Robert, you seem to always report sales figures in raw as, opposed to daily rate adjusted, year to year form. I know Autoblog does the latter and it makes sense to me (fewer days equals fewer sales opportunities). Why do you use the former (unadjusted) rate?

    Seriously, am I missing a bias here?

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    I read this article and promptly wet myself laughing!

    As much as I respect Mr Mulally, I’m starting to wonder whether saving Ford is a task even beyond him. Given that he’s got his “wunderkind” Mark Fields heading the Americas’ division (who, according to a new source I’ve acquired, is EXACTLY how I predicted i.e a complete “wideboy” and talks a lot without saying anything.) Ford’s outlook looks rather bleak. Couple that with ANOTHER break in logic I found today.

    Apparently, Mr Mullaly, wants to bring the Euro Ford KA to North America (NA). However, I checked the stats on the Euro KA (last generation) and something struck me.

    The KA DOESN’T have have air conditioning, DOESN’T have an automatic gearbox and has a fuel economy of 39.52 mpUSg.

    Now, the Toyota Aygo has air conditioning, has an automatic gearbox and has a fuel economy of 53.21mpUSg.

    It, also, is only 3 BHP weaker (The Ford KA engine is 1.3, the Toyota Aygo is 1.0L) and the Toyota Aygo is safer than the Ford KA (Aygo is Euro NCAP 4 stars whereas the Ford KA is Euro NCAP 3 stars).

    Yet despite all this, the Aygo is 43kg LIGHTER than the KA. So, when the KA comes to NA and an automatic gearbox, air conditioning and extra safety features are added (which, it’ll need to be more appealing to NA customers), more weight will be added and the fuel economy will be even worse.

    If Ford think these Euro cars will “save” them, then they’d better pray that Toyota don’t have a similar idea and bring their Aygo over to NA…..

  • avatar
    autonut

    What I like to hear or read how family ownership of 5% of stock value and controlling 40% of vote help the company to weather this storm? It is the same family/trust that evicted Lee Iaccoca and Nasser while they were heading the company in the right direction.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    If I recall correctly, sales days are Mon-Fri. Which is kind of bull, since every car dealership is open every day, so everyday is really a sales day.

    And since with the exception of leap years, each month has the same number of days from year to year, the absolute numbers are really more reflective of performance. The car companies tend to use whichever measure paints them in a better light for that month.

    Autonut: I’ll grant you the Fords have done some dumbass stuff, but they at least were smart enough to eventually realize they weren’t that smart and hired Mulally. GM’s BoD however, could have spent the last 8 years in a coma for all the good they’ve done. So the case for public management isn’t all that hot.

  • avatar
    MattVA

    autonut,
    Nasser had the company headed in the right direction!? Jacques Nasser? Land Rover Nasser? Volvo Nasser? Let’s spend all our cash buying other companies instead of improving our core brands Nasser?

    And as for share prices, Ford’s market capitalization is 5 billion, GM’s is 3.2 billion.

    I’m honestly surprised this changed anyone’s opinion of Ford’s chances. They’ve lost about 30% each of the last two months, and nothing has changed in the market to make me think it wouldn’t happen this month, and again next month.

  • avatar
    the duke

    toxicroach: You make a good point, most dealers sell everyday – except here in Michigan where I swear you won’t find a single one open on Sunday and only a few on Saturday.

    I guess the bottom line is that whatever basis is used needs to be used consistently whether sales are down or up (the latter unlikely anytime soon).

  • avatar

    @ the duke

    My impression is that it’s like the difference between gross and net horsepower ratings. Gross ratings are an idealized case, minus draining factors like accessories and stock mufflers. Net ratings are how much power the engine actually puts out in streetable condition. You could say that gross ratings are “fairer,” because they’re not handicapped, but net ratings are pretty much what you have to work with in the real world.

    I think RF’s philosophy is that handicapping the sales stats to adjust for actual selling days (which doesn’t really vary that much) obfuscates the real question, which is, “How many cars did you guys actually sell this month?”

    Profit numbers are not graded on a curve. Should sales be?

  • avatar
    hltguy

    romanjetfighter: Gm “not as bad as sales drop” referring to Ford, GM just announced in October their sales dropped 45%. A freakin’ disaster.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    If I recall correctly, sales days are Mon-Fri. Which is kind of bull, since every car dealership is open every day, so everyday is really a sales day.

    Unless you are in Texas where they can be open Saturday or open Sunday, but not on both (State law).

    Strange, but true since with the exception of no selling of alcohol before noon Sunday, every day is essentially equal for every other business.

  • avatar
    geeber

    P71_CrownVic: Ford is sinking fast…and these half-hearted refreshes are only helping that process. Chrysler will go before Ford, but then Ford will be next. GM has much better products that are both high in quality and priced right.

    GM is down 45 percent from last year…if Ford is “sinking fast,” I guess that GM is dropping like a rock.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    From Bloomberg:
    “GM sales of cars and light trucks tumbled 45 percent from a year earlier.
    Ford reported a 30 percent decline.
    Toyota posted a 23 percent drop.
    Honda sales were down 25 percent.
    Nissan sales slid 33 percent.”

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    jamie1:
    Depressingly wide of the mark. The half-hearted refreshes include things like: Flex, MKS, Taurus, Mustang, Fusion, Milan, MKT, Fiesta, F-150 and Focus. Seems not very half-hearted to me!

    The Flex is not a refresh…it is a ugly vehicle…that is as redundant as the Edge…it also was a complete waste of money…money that Ford does not have.

    The MKTaurus is outclassed in every way by it’s competition. It is low on power but high on price. The MKTaurus does NOTHING that would make you spend almost 50K on it or buy it over the competition. Berkowitz said it best:
    “Had Lincoln swung for the fences, we might well have seen a very different MKS: a signature car for reborn brand. But they didn’t, or couldn’t. At this point, my advice is to buy a fully-loaded Mercury Sable instead or buy something used with genuine upmarket cachet. ”

    Mustang??? Ford themselves called it a “re-skin”. And it is launching with carryover engines. Talk about half-hearted!

    The Fusion is another ugly duckling…and based on the spy shots…a very low rent interior.

    The new Milan is ugly as well…even uglier than the Fusion.

    MKT??? The Flex is way overpriced as witnessed by it’s terrible sales…what makes a MORE EXPENSIVE Lincoln Flex any better? Again, it is a useless and redundant vehicle.

    Fiesta…not a refresh…just a car that Ford is dragging their feet with getting here.

    F-150 has a new front end and a rear end…the middle is the same with gas guzzling engines. It is also WAY too big.

    Focus? Read Farago’s review…he summed it up nicely.

  • avatar
    BlackPope808

    The really sad news is that in the age of the internet, we can only trumpet how dismal the condition of the US auto industry, once the best and greatest in the world is. How many workers will be out of jobs? How will so many unemployed individuals drag on an economy already dead in the water? We can keep haranguing about this CEO and that CFO, but the bottom line is, we bought their crap. We bought the huge gas guzzling SUVs because we thought it made us look great. We settled for less than world class fit and finish, because we wanted a cheaper product. The Europeans and Japanese markets have realistic cars with suitable interiors…why? Because if it was crap they just would not buy it. Do Americans want a nice hatch with a turbo-charged engine and high end interior? Nope. Give us the KMart special and when things go belly up, we can all go on internet forums and bitch all day about it.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Geeber:
    GM is down 45 percent from last year…if Ford is “sinking fast,” I guess that GM is dropping like a rock.

    GM is WAY too big…and redundant.

    GM needs to trim the fat and get down to their core brands. GMC, Saab, Saturn, Buick, and Hummer need to go.

    ANd then intergerate the best vehicles into the other brands. Like the Vue. Make that a Chevy (but then cancel another Chevy).

    G8, make it an Impala SS…or Chevelle.

    Keep the new Lacrosse…as something

    Keep the Enclave as a Cadillac

    Etc.

  • avatar

    I think part of the reason people aren’t as freaked out about Ford’s sales drop is that they haven’t been pulling the same sales stunts that GM has. That and they are committed to revamping their car lineup while GM is saying that all new product updates are on hold until further notice.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I feel a bit sorry for Ford. I mean, the Edge IMHO is one of the better looking vehicles of it’s kind. The Taurus X seems to be a good vehicle and capable at what it does and the Flex even more so with a nicer interior. (Not a paid endorsement).

    Sometimes, I do think it’s possible to be ‘right’ and still fail.

  • avatar
    Martin B

    I’m not sure if Volvo trucks in Europe are part of Ford. If so, the news is even more depressing, like a better than 99% drop in sales.

    From Bloomberg: In the third quarter of 2007, Volvo AB booked 41,970 European orders for new trucks. Guess how many prospective purchases Volvo, the world’s second-biggest maker of heavy rigs, received in the third quarter of this year?

    Here’s a clue. Picture a highway gridlocked by 41,815 abandoned trucks — because Volvo’s order book got destroyed to the tune of 99.63 percent, with customers signing up for just 155 vehicles in the three-month period, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based company said last week.

  • avatar
    Dave

    Down 32% – and that’s better than GM! ….. just how bad will it get? Quotes like “houston, we have a problem” come to mind. Do they have opening windows on the upper floors of the glasshouse and Ren Centre?

    BTW – when are the financials for Q3 out?

    To answer a couple of posters – can’t see Ford taking the Ka to the US unless Fiat take their 500 there first. Engine and eveything under the body is Fiat – built by them in Poland.

    Volvo truck is not owned by Ford. Billy’s boys only bought the car side of the business.

  • avatar
    Vorenus

    To the people calling the Edge redundant because of the Escape, what do you think about Toyota having the RAV4, Highlander, 4-Runner and FJ? Surely, they don’t need all four.

    Seriously, I see Edges everywhere, and it’s received nothing but favorable (and at worst, half-decent) reviews, so I don’t see why people are so down on it. Ford’s products, while not on the level of Nissan’s and Toyota’s, at least have more appeal than GMs and Chrysler’s!

    One comment I agree with however, is that Mercury should be cut. Now THOSE are redundant.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Vorenus:
    To the people calling the Edge redundant because of the Escape, what do you think about Toyota having the RAV4, Highlander, 4-Runner and FJ? Surely, they don’t need all four.

    Seriously, I see Edges everywhere, and it’s received nothing but favorable (and at worst, half-decent) reviews, so I don’t see why people are so down on it.

    Here is the difference though…Toyota has the bankroll to be redundant. They are MAKING MONEY…so who cares what they do with it.

    The Edge, in all of it’s useless-ness glory, is a vehicle that should have never seen the light of day. Ford has NO MONEY…and shouldn’t be designing vehicles that they already sell (Escape), when they are asking Mommy and Daddy Government to bail them out of a mess they got themselves in.

    The Flex is the same way. Ford already had a seven-seat station wagon on the market…the Taurus X (which was all new for 2008). But rather than pump a little bit of money into advertising it…Ford decides that it would be easier (and MUCH MORE expensive) to create the Flex. Now…what kind of financial sense does either of those two vehicles make? NONE!

    Rather than introduce a 5-seat and 7-seat gas guzzlers…Ford should have spent a few $$$ on improving the interiors and advertising the Taurus X and Escape…rather than introducing the Edge and Flex. Ford would be HEALTHIER because of it.

  • avatar
    billc83

    I have a suspicion behind the magic of the 2010 release dates of the so-called “saviors” of the domestics (i.e. Volt, Fiesta, Cruze, etc.). I believe it may be in order to help secure the upcoming bailout.

    If the Fiesta turns out to be a huge hit, making tons of profit for Ford, wouldn’t their claim to the federal bailout money be lessened because they need it less? But if they get their bailouts now, with only promises of future product potential, then it would help secure the cash!

    Let some time slip after the money is granted, and then release some hot products – that would make the bailout look downright brilliant to the average person. Methinks the B&B won’t be as impressed.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    The Taurus X was hardly “all new” for 2008. Let’s not forget that this same basic car was launched in 2005 as the Freestyle.

  • avatar
    HPE

    Hi Katie,

    Good to see you around again – haven’t seen your contributions in a while (or maybe I just haven’t been looking). But your argument against the Ka doesn’t stack up. As you yourself pointed out, your comparison is based on the old Ka, a car which is more or less unchanged since it launched in 1996 – and more importantly, was axed last month in favour of the all-new, Fiat 500-based Ka.

    I actually agree that bringing the Ka – even the new one – to the US is ridiculous, but on a different premise – it’s simply too close to the Fester (sic) to be worth it. Faced with the choice, Americans aren’t going to see the point in buying a smaller, less powerful, and more cheaply-finished car for nearly as much. For the same reason, I don’t think the Aygo would work in the US – it’s just too close to the Yaris to make sense. Americans may be in one of their downsizing phases, but there are limits.

  • avatar
    y2kdcar

    Martin B :

    I’m not sure if Volvo trucks in Europe are part of Ford. If so, the news is even more depressing, like a better than 99% drop in sales.

    No, Volvo Truck is not part of Ford. Jacques Nasser only bought the car side of the business. With his peculiar genius for buying turkeys, I’m surprised he didn’t overpay for all of Volvo.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    P71 . . . you are some kind of bitter dude. Biggest hater on the site. Too bad your opinions tend to not hold water. And it’s hypocritical to give Toyota a ‘pass’ just because they’re making money . . . a bad strategy is a bad strategy.

    I really wonder at the reaction to Ford’s 32% drop . . . is everyone choosing to ignore the general industry results? Granted, any drop is bad, and being behind anyone is bad . . . but Toyota is down 26%.

    And as far as the 2010 intros being suspicious . . . I’ll tell you they’re not. We’ve seen the Fusion here, and the hybrid is right behind it with FE that beats similar hybrids. The Transit Connect is here soon and it will really fill some white space . . . I predict a hit. The new Taurus is gorgeous. The Fiesta *will* be here on time, and it’s getting great reviews in Europe.

    Hate all you want . . . Ford is rocking!

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    @HPE,

    I only used the old KA stat, simply because I don’t have access to the new generation’s stats. But my (broader) point is this. People in NA are looking to Euro Fords to help NA Ford and I keep telling everyone (and everyone conveniently doesn’t listen) Euro Fords are nowhere near the panacea everyone thinks they are. They still have terrible resale value (like NA cars), they still have pretty poor reliability (like NA cars) and they are still losing market share to other car makers (like NA cars).

    Also, if I was an NA customer and I saw a Euro Ford and I thought “Wow! This is a quality car!”, my next thought, instantly, would be “How come the europeans get cars like these and I get these piles of junk?!”. Thus “endearing” myself closer to Ford(!)

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