By on February 3, 2009

Automotive News [sub] reports that US-market sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury-branded vehicles fell 39 percent in January, to 90,131. “Retail demand appears to have stabilized,” Ford sales analyst George Pipas told AN before those numbers were announced “Regrettably, but understandably, it stabilized at a low rate. But before you can begin to improve, things have to bottom out.” And have they ever. Ford’s press release is a roiling sea of not good, with Volvo down 64 percent, Mercury down 44 percent, Lincoln Down 23.7 percent and the Ford brand 39.5 percent versus January 2008. Fusion was the only significant seller that dropped less than 20 percent (Volvo V50 was down only 16.6 percent with a big 136 models sold, and the Towncar is up 147 percent at 510 units sold).

So instead of becoming the last known survivor stalking its prey in the night and watching bailout proceedings with the eye of the tiger, Ford is preparing to ride this bad news straight to the handout line. Ford executives announced to Automotive News [sub] that the firm expects “robust” additional funding for a program of low-interest government loans to help automakers and suppliers retool for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Beyond the $25b already appropriated, of course. Specifically, Ford is gunning for $11b worth of these so-called Section 136 loans, implying that the Obama administration should double down on the program “because President Barack Obama likes it and some congressional Democratic leaders are enthusiastic about it,” according to Ford VP for Government Affairs, Bruce Andrews.

And Ford will even make it worth the O-Man’s political capital, vowing to “work together” with state and federal officials to create a coherent national standard on fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions. After all, the “bailout bucks used to sue states” story aint helping Detroit’s underdog turnaround narrative any. If Ford is going to get in line for more (non-136 loans) bailout money (and if February isn’t an improvement, expect it), they want to keep whatever bits of moral highground seperates them from the PR hell currently occupied by GM and Chrysler. And who can blame them?

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19 Comments on “Ford Sales Plummet 39 Percent...”


  • avatar
    SegwayCop

    At what point do the car companies even bother with launching new models?
    If they can not lower prices due to sunk costs, then who will buy new?

    More importantly, does the uptick in percent share of the market mean the executives can expect a bonus?

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Wow, those are dismal, they sold less volvo’s total then Mustangs. The F-series was the sole bright spot, and considering it’s a brand in itself, with so many variations, they probably arent’t that good either. How do they compare to December, can this really be called the bottom?

    Also, has the Flex ever sold well? It seems like a good product to me, but the numbers are not good. Is it price?

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    All very interesting, but not very helpful without context. I will look forward to January numbers from the other players. I suspect that Ford may be kind of average. GM may fare better, because the incentives and cheap financing really started to flow in January. Chrysler will be scary. But let’s wait and see.
    And who knows, Ford may have made more on those 517 Town Cars than on the whole rest of the fleet.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    SethL:
    Also, has the Flex ever sold well? It seems like a good product to me, but the numbers are not good. Is it price?

    I am with you. I think it’s the coolest vehicle in the whole lineup, but I never see any. They do seem kind of pricey, and I have not seen any big price or financing promotions on them in my area (central Indiana). I sat in one when they were first out, and they have some very unusual headrests that lack adjustment and struck my wife and I as sort of uncomfortable. It’s a small thing, but maybe not when you are looking at a $35k vehicle.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    The Fusion is only down ~11%. That seemed interesting considering the new model is imminent.

    It’s too bad about the Flex. It would be a great road trip vehicle.

  • avatar
    BDB

    I agree about the Flex, very handsome vehicle and more interesting than the other bubbly/cutesy minivan without the sliding doors CUVs.

  • avatar

    Unlike in the past, fleet sales are hurting their results. This from the AN article:

    “Ford said its sales to individual customers fell 27 percent, while its fleet sales plunged 65 percent. The fleet figure includes a 90 percent drop in sales to rental companies.”

  • avatar
    Axel

    Now I have Survivor running through my head.

    “FORD! Ford, Ford, FORD!”

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Wow…and here I was told that the Lincoln Taurus and Ford xB were going to save the company.

    I bet you anything the only thing to bring home the bacon yet again…was the Panthers…

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Yup, year after year the car platform everyone loves to hate puts a little more cash in Ford’s cookie jar.

  • avatar

    Flex rules, heartbreaker about the sales #s. On the other hand, Ford is the domestic with the lowest sales drop from what I can see, and I’m not surprised – for at least a year now they’ve been firing on all cylinders (except for that little Focus styling misfire). Mulally is the right man to have at the helm of this sinking ship, I think they may yet right themselves.

    I’ll be pulling for them, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    john.fritz:

    Compared to the Aveo or Caliber, the Focus is a godsend, and it’s probably on par with the Versa and Yaris.

    Of course I’m still bitter Ford killed the wagon and both hatches, and yes, the SVT.

  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    As a dedicated Flex owner, I think the Flex sales are soft due to the dorky Scion-y ads (it looks like a small youth toy instead of the large wagon it is) and dealers loaded their inventory with a ton of maxed out $40K+ Limiteds.

    People regularly stare at mine or ask “What is that?” which wouldn’t be the case if the ads were actually effective. Of course, I believe Edge sales started soft and got better once more got out on the street.

    I hope they catch on. Ford really did a very good job with the Flex.

  • avatar
    CaliCarGuy

    wow those are dismal numbers. not as bad as gm or chrysler in my opnion but sill bad.

    but concerning the flex, i think the problem with it is price. they start to high. and iam with you Mr. Sparky wen u said the dealers loaded their inventory with loaded 40k limited’s. theres no luck with a used flex either i checked. the ones i saw on autotrader was 34-35k. makes no since really. so its a no win situation with the flex.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    The Flex has many problems.

    1. It is not that efficient.
    2. It is too expensive.
    3. It is supposed to be a minivan replacement…yet offers the interior room of a mid-sized SUV.
    4. Look at it. It is a stretched xB.
    5. The Taurus X.

    I’ll expand on that last one.

    The Taurus X can be had at very low prices…$20K-$22K for a limited model with under 10K miles. So, why would anyone pay MUCH more for the same vehicle that does the same things?

    Now, I realize that the T-X sales have not been anything to write home about…but month after month, it is stealing sales away from the (redundant) Flex.

    Which brings me to the stupidity that is running Ford. Rather than advertise the highly praised (TTAC liked it…they gave it 4 stars…which is the same for the Flex))and well received Taurus X (which would be cheap), Ford thought it be a much better idea to spend BILLIONS on the Flex…new interior, heavily modified platform, new (and uninspired) exterior, and the very expensive ad campaign…that is producing lackluster results.

    Ford has made a lot of mistakes in the past two years or so, but this Flex is the biggest one yet. When you have to mortgage your own logo, it is not very wise to spend BILLIONS on a vehicle you already sell.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    They’re going to cease Taurus X sales. Right now even if you took all TX sales and combined them with Flex sales it wouldn’t be that big of a difference.

    Also, quit acting like Ford expected the new Taurus or Flex (or any one or two vehicles alone) to totally save their bacon. They’re not making the Volt.

    It’s also as efficient as damn near anything else that seats more than 5. The Flex isn’t that huge of a flop given the market. IIRC it hit the scene right as the economy took its first dump. As long as they stick it out they’ll have class leading (or at least heavily competitive) 7 seaters in both Ford and Lincoln.

  • avatar
    wjo

    The Volvo sales are truly depressing on both a percentage and absolute basis. They signal to me that Ford needs to sell Volvo — just to get certainty back to the brand. There has been so much on-again, off-again specualtion on the sale of Volvo for the past year, few are going to buy a Volvo car until there is some certainty to who stands behind the brand. In the past, I have been a supporter of Volvo staying with Ford due to their parts sharing. But at this point, let the sale and divorce begin….for the benefit of both.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Actually, since the silly Flex went on sale, The Taurus X has gathered 11,437 sales…which is 68% of the total Flex sales (16,916). So…yeah..it would have made a big difference.

    I never expected the Flex to save Ford’s bacon…that is what I was told by Ford cheerleaders.

    And if they were anywhere near class leading, they would be selling. But they are too expensive, small, and not efficient enough.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    I sure hope Ford can find a way to not have to go begging to the government for TARP relief. I think it was a bold move to go it on their own and I hope people reward them with sales over GM or Chrysler for their efforts.

    Of course even if they start to bounce back, they’re still stuck in union purgatory.

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