Ford Sales Sink 41%
Detroit’s “last man standing” has taken another one in the chest, as March sales stats reveal a 41-percent drop compared to last year. The Blue Oval Boyz are in full spin mode, proclaiming an enlarged (if unspecified) retail market share, “growing awareness and consideration of Ford and its high-quality, fuel-efficient products” and, oh, yes, have you heard about Ford’s Advantage Program? Still, there is a bounce here, as dead cats GM and Chrysler take it on the chin (exact facial damage to follow). “Ford sales increased 30 percent compared with [a thoroughly miserable, unprofitable] February 2009 with retail sales up 34 percent [compared to February’s thoroughly miserable, unprofitable stats] and fleet sales up 22 percent [compared to February’s thoroughly miserable, unprofitable stats]. As incentive spending is also up, those numbers don’t do much for that whole viability thing. High profit SUVs’ 73.2-percent nosedive can’t help the bottom line, either.
Volvo? Volvo is so NSFWed the PR people forgot to put the minus sign in front of the numbers for the V70, C70 and C30.
Discounting the old stuff (and how) and the Mustang model changeover effect, Ford’s biggest loser is its former savior, the Explorer. Sales tumbled 69.8 percent for the month and 63.5 percent year-to-date.
Question: how long can Ford afford take these hits without staggering over to the federal bailout buffet?
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Let's talk about a few things related to this number: 1) Incentive spend. Ford's incentive spend has been stable realtive to, say, GM, Chrysler, Hyundai or even Toyota. A couple models in particular are very interesting. The Edge's rental sales and incentive have absolutely plummeted in Q1. What you are seeing in the Edge's sales numbers are sustainable levels for Edge sales that protect residuals. Flex is in a similar position. More profitable vehicles like the F-series also have drastically reduced incentives with the new model. The new Fusion model will have lower incentive spend as well over the next few months. 2) Fleet sales. The % of Ford sales to rental fleets have been significantly lowered so far this year - almost in half. Discounts on fleet sales are down as well. And after crunching the numbers, retail sales are down ~36% and they probably picked up some share. 3) Large SUVs. The Expedition's plunge is about half related to the lack of inventory (the other half being industry and incentive spend reductions). It hasn't been produced since November and just started Monday. 4) Conquest sales at Ford are improving. And, most notably though is that traffic is strong relative to the industry (which means that they don't need $5,000 rebates to close a deal). And much of this traffic is not traditional Ford shoppers. It's not a great set of news, but there's not a lot to be upset about. I mean, when the industry is down 38%, if you're down 41%, you're not far off. It's not like the industry was flat. And given their incentive landscape is better than most of the industry, fleet sales are down even more and conquest is up, it's not that bad really.