Ford September Sales Slip 5 Percent
If you’re looking for proof that shoppers are avoiding the auto industry’s bailout babies, here’s the final piece of evidence you need: Not only did Ford outperform GM and Chrysler during Cash For Clunkers, but it’s also weathering the post-clunker decline with a mere five percent September decline compared to GM and ChryCo’s 45 and 42 percent drops. Across every segment, Ford is proving resilience that cannot be explained by mere product comparisons. Perception feeds reality, and the perception that Ford has not received a federal bailout is clearly helping the Blue Oval move metal.
Ford-branded vehicles led the way for Ford’s “core” brands, with a mere four percent decline. Mercury (-16 percent) and Lincoln (-21 percent) followed with 5,443 and 5,980 units sold respectively. Volvo was the big surprise, actually increasing 16.3 percent to 4,716 units sold.
The new Taurus was the biggest Ford-brand gainer, enjoying a 60 percent sales increase and cresting 5,000 units sold. Fusion also increased, although by only nine percent. Still, that was enough to drive sales over the 10k mark. Mustang was up a flat .1 percent, while Focus slid 11.3 percent. Flex gained 3.8 percent, continuing that model’s steady growth. Escape was down only 5.1 percent while Edge dropped 32.5 percent. F-Series and Ford Heavy Trucks increased 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent respectively, with Ranger dropping 47.6 percent and Eonoline off 10.9 percent. Transit Connect kicked off US sales with 1,527 units sold.
Mercury saw Grand Marquis gaining 34.2 percent, but with only 2,146 units sold, the victory was purely Pyrrhic. Merc’s next-best competitor was Milan, down 5 percent. Otherwise, Mariner was down 32.3 percent, Mountaineer fell 36.8 percent and Sable tanked 88.3 percent to an anemic 92 units sold.
Lincoln was down across the board, with a 2.7 percent decline in MKZ sales the only number resembling a ray of light. MKX was down 13.6 percent, MKS dropped 27.5 percent, Navigator fell 31.8 percent and Town Car shed 54.5 percent, ending under 500 units.
Volvo’s relative increase was strong, but volume numbers tell the real story. S40 (+114 percent) was the top volume nameplate with 903 sales. XC90 (-20.3) hit 882 units, while the new XC60 cracked 828. S80 was down only 13.1 percent, but at 502 units, the volume was insignificant. XC70, S60, V50 and C70 all failed to reach 300 units. The C30 barely escaped that category by adding 19.6 percent to 317 units.
Ford’s non-Ford brands continue to struggle to make a case for their continued existence. In fact, the only thing you can say for them is how surprisingly stable they are, given all the turmoil in the luxury segment. On the other hand, stability at volumes of under 6,000 units per month is nothing to write home about. If Ford can keep making easy profit on these brands it will face no motivation to eliminate or significantly improve them. However, it will be sowing the seeds of its own decline once its bailout-free halo fades. With more premium Ford-brand products like the Taurus and Flex showing signs of strength, one imagines that either Lincoln or (more likely) Mercury will be phased out in the foreseeable future.
More by Edward Niedermeyer
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