Is Europe Saving the Mustang? Well, Not Exactly

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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is europe saving the mustang well not exactly

The Ford Mustang grabbed its passport and went overseas in 2015, crossing border after border as its parent company followed through on a plan to plunder (and grow) the right-hand-drive sports car market. Customers in Europe and China finally got a taste of pony car action as Mustang sales expanded to over 140 countries.

At home, the Mustang remains a strong seller, but the market’s growing distaste for passenger cars means even rear-drive coupes and convertibles with a storied heritage aren’t immune to volume loss. After reaching a post-recession U.S. sales high of 122,349 cars in 2015, Mustang sales fell to 81,866 units last year. Volume over the first two months of 2018 is down 21.1 percent over the same period last year.

Not to worry — the Mustang’s European popularity is keeping executives in Dearborn happy, right? Well, European customers help, but they’re far from the model’s savior. Especially if they stop buying.

For some reason, Bloomberg changed the headline on its story of how Europeans are saving the Mustang. The original remains in its URL. To weigh the now-downplayed statement, we’ll have to take a look at some sales numbers.

Buyers in the Euro 20 countries (a market that excludes the UK) took home 15,335 Mustangs in 2016. A year later, the tally for 2017 was 13,100 — a loss of over 2,200 vehicles. Euro 20 Mustang sales in January 2019 amounted to roughly 400 cars, some 600 or so vehicles fewer than the same month a year before. Neither the 2016 or 2017 calendar year saw the Euro 20 buy more Mustangs than the model lost in the U.S. over the same period, though you can chalk up the 2015 American sales surge to enthusiasm over the new, current-generation model. Last year, U.S. sales were pretty much unchanged from the 2012-2014 period.

In this context, yes, Europe is helping the Mustang, even more so if U.S. demand drops further while European volume stays steady (which it’s not).

In 2016, as Ford touted the Mustang’s brand-boosting European sales, the automaker said roughly 45,000 sales came from outside the U.S., meaning Europe (minus the UK) made up only a third of that tally. It’s a group effort. Canadian Mustang sales have risen every year since 2012, with 2017’s tally ringing in at 8,348 cars. China plays a large role, too, with 2017 sales rising 35 percent over the previous year (for 4,225 Mustangs sold). Still, China remains volatile. Amid a brand-wide slump that Ford attributes to fewer selling days, Chinese Mustang sales fell 27 percent, year over year, over the first two months of 2018.

Flinging the Mustang to the furthest reaches of the globe means the potential for greater overall sales, insulating the model from trouble back at home. However, while Europe plays a significant role, it’s nowhere near the same thing as Buick in China.

[Image: Ford]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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6 of 33 comments
  • Ermel Ermel on Mar 13, 2018

    1st-gen Mustangs are almost as common a sight as current-gen ones here in North Germany. And they both have a slightly shady image here. I don't remember ever seeing a new Mustang being comparison tested by a car magazine. They're just not a serious option. (Neither are Camaroes and Challengers, btw.)

  • Tennessee_Speed Tennessee_Speed on Mar 13, 2018

    I wish Ford would use the Mustang chassis to develop a 4 door RWD sports sedan. I know this sector is pretty full with eight or so competitors, but Ford could compete well on price alone. This argument can also be made for the Camaro. The upcoming Genesis G70 needs more competition. I would appreciate other reader's views on this.

    • See 3 previous
    • Raph Raph on Mar 14, 2018

      @Ion SS and G8 aside (since they aren't alpha) GM's alpha based cars in total handily outsell the Mustang. IMO its too bad Ford doesnt have a global sedan and wagon based off the S550 platform. Mustang could really benefit from the added volume.

  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
  • FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
  • Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.
  • Stuki Moi "How do you take a small crossover and make it better?Slap the AMG badge on it and give it the AMG treatment."No, you don't.In fact, that is specifically what you do NOT do.Huge, frail wheels, and postage stamp sidewalls, do nothing but make overly tall cuvs tramline and judder. And render them even less useful across the few surfaces where they could conceivably have an advantage over more properly dimensioned cars. And: Small cuvs have pitiful enough fuel range as it is, even with more sensible engines.Instead, to make a small CUV better, you 1)make it a lower slung wagon. And only then give it the AMG treatment. AMG'ing, makes sense for the E class. And these days with larger cars, even the C class. For the S class, it never made sense, aside from the sheer aural visceralness of the last NA V8. The E-class is the center of AMG. Even the C-class, rarely touches the M3.Or 2) You give it the Raptor/Baja treatment. Massive, hypersophisticated suspension travel allowing landing meaningful jumps. As well as driving up and down wide enough stairs if desired. That's a kind of driving for which a taller stance, and IFS/IRS, makes sense.Attempting to turn a CUV into some sort of a laptime wonder, makes about as much sense as putting an America's Cup rig atop a ten deck cruiseship.