By on March 12, 2018

Image: 2018 Ford Mustang

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]

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33 Comments on “Is Europe Saving the Mustang? Well, Not Exactly...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Looks like the distaste for cars is a global thing. How about a Mustang SUV? Oh wait, that is the Bronco. Raptor Bronco could be a Mustang Bronco. There, problem solved.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      You joke but they were probably testing the waters with the whole Mach 1 shenanigans.

      IMO the now mid cycle refresh (supposedly the 2020 model is on hold and the S550 will carry on) wasn’t popular even though its not too bad in the flesh and looks much better in darker colors – the yellow car Ford was show casing was a poor choice. Also I suspect with boomers starting to take up residence in the skull orchard most gen Xer’s, millennials and most definitely gen Y don’t have the purchasing power to afford the ever more expensive Mustang especially since its consigned to either single person status or secondary vehicle for the poor bastards that had to much to drink one night and were morally opposed to a morning after pill yet still want to cling to the single person lifestyle.

      When Mullaly was in IIRC the Mustang had “protected” status meaning it wouldn’t go on hiatus like the Camaro did in between the 4th and 5th gen cars but Ford is in a tough spot since they dont offer any other car in a longitudal rear wheel drive configuration compared to thier competition and with Hackett looking to complete Ford’s transfrmation into a Truck/SUV/CUV company who knows if it still enjoys that status.

      At least for now the future is bright in terms of product. you have what is arguably the best line up in terms of Performance Mustangs with the EB and GT performance pack cars (including the Level Perfromance Pack for the GT) with the gen III coyote, the GT350 now confirmed to be in production through 2019 and the GT500 being introduced as a 2020 model and being sold along side the GT350 for its introduction year.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’m still trying to figure out how the base price on a GT Premium jumped nearly $3,000 in two years (comparing the Ford website to the window sticker from my Mustang). Maybe that’s why sales are down. It doesn’t look they’ve added any value. Navigation, bigger wheels, improved stereo – all extra, not like they’ve become standard equipment. Even the price of the spare tire kit is up over $400 now. It was like $150 when I bought my car.

    • 0 avatar
      AmateurSophist

      Exactly this. Even in the spring of 2015 I was able to get a new Mustang for a couple grand below sticker. But even with that type of discount I’m not sure the current Premium GT is the obvious choice it was back then.

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      It’s part of the BMW’ing of Ford. Intentional or not, Ford is starting to emulate Munich on several fronts: 1) Indifference to quality and reliability past XX,XXX miles, 2) Pricing premium not supported by 1), and 3) Exorbitantly priced options that should be standard equipment per the pricing set in 2). Their trucks still seem to be largely immune, but for their sedan/coupe segments it’s a killer…which may be the point.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Glad I’m not alone on this. One of the reasons I picked the Mustang was that it was significantly cheaper than the Camaro SS or Challenger Scat Pack. The higher prices kill any prospect of a potential trade up to a Kona Blue GT (the one color I would have selected in favor of Guard).

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I know the 18 gets upgraded transmissions and engines. Led headlights (not sure if they’re self leveling) looks like you get reverse sensors in addition to the backup camera. I know cost of production and MSRP are different, but if you had to buy a replacement headlight you might be looking at 1500 without labor or coding

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I don’t see it. The 10-speed costs $400 more than the old 6-speed auto ($1600 vs $1200), so that’s not even accounted for in the price difference. And they still haven’t dumped the Chinese manual transmission. I’d rather have the old powertrain at the old price.

        Backup cameras were standard on the 15-17 models, so that’s not it. I did pickup on the reverse sensors, which my car has as a $300 option (not worth it, IMO, but I didn’t special order the car). Not sure about the LED headlights. The pre-refresh models all have HID headlights, with LED running lights.

        Really, I think it’s just an effort to make sticker prices look more like the competition, although I don’t know what transaction prices really are for Camaros or Challengers.

  • avatar
    mikey

    So they only sold 400 Mustangs in Euro 20 in “January 2019 ??? ” Thats pretty remarkable !

  • avatar
    kkop

    ” 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.”

    FYI: Europe (excluding UK) is left-hand drive…

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      I’m still trying to figure out what that picture is supposed to illustrate. It’s a LHD Mustang, driven on the left side of the road, somewhere in the scrubland desert Midwest of… Europe? It’s some country where there are no lane lines painted on the tarmac, where there are no other vehicles on the road who might suddenly care if your Mustang is hugging the left shoulder.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      kkop and the EU has had Pony Car action.

      I know the UK sold HSV’s for a number of years now.

      Rear V8 grunt, with handling.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      “FYI: Europe (excluding UK) is left-hand drive…”

      I must tell Ireland, Cyprus, Malta that kkop has decreed that they are now LHD.

  • avatar
    Larry Evans

    I think the Mustang is doing well in sales. Both it and the Camaro benefited from an empty-nest baby boom sales bump, where the generation that remembers the cars at their historical peak were able to finally get a new one. Camaro went away while their kids were in school, but came back with a retro vengeance when their households shrank and disposable income went up. Now, boomers are getting older, relying more on retirement and maybe looking for something a bit more comfortable. If the Mustang can continue to attract new car buyers, even if overall volume never approaches its peak, it should stick around for the foreseeable future.

  • avatar
    dwford

    We often assume that US made cars are just for us, but Ford really sells its US cars all over the world.

    Check out Fords international sites: http://corporate.ford.com/global-links.html#s3f3

    Interesting to see what they sell in different countries.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Ford dropping the decent value engine option from the Mustang didn’t result in strong sales? Color me shocked.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Australia sold 9 135 Mustangs in 2017, not bad considering Australia has 24 million people to the EU’s 600 million odd and 13 000 sales.

    Australia even bought more than the Canuckians 8 348.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      https://www.caradvice.com.au/612213/vfacts-industry-claims-annual-record-for-2017/

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      It makes sense that Australians would buy more Mustangs than Canadians since your country isn’t under a blanket of snow for 1/2 the year ;)

      With that being said, I read somewhere that Vancouver/lower mainland has the most convertibles per capita since no one wants one if it is too hot or too cold.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I agree.

        Did you know GM in their wisdom are going to introduce the Camaro into Australia.

        But ………….. (another global vehicle fail by US industry) they will need a conversion job, making them twice as expensive as the Mustang.

        Way to go GM!

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      That is a bit increase on 2016’s 6208 sales too – not exactly saving the Mustang though.

      I’m not sure that Ford is paying too much attention to the Australian market though, beause when they shut down the factory due to production getting ahead of sales (12-18 months ago?), there was still a 6-12 month waiting period here in Australia; they could have run of a few day’s worth to cut that down. No doubt they have lost some sales due to the waiting period.

  • avatar
    lowangreddragon

    For me the problem with EU Mustang is about downsizing and taxation. We’we got 2.3L right? But in Poland it will be taxed as 5.0 V8. If Ford would done it’s homework there should be 2.0L taxed about 3%, crossing that volume just by 0.3L adds extra 15%.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    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.)

  • avatar
    Tennessee_Speed

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      That might even make a worthy top-of-the-line car for Europe. It would certainly be big enough — their current top-end car, the Mondeo (your Fusion) is just a couple centimetres longer than the Mustang, so a Mustang-based sedan should outsize it easily and let Ford re-enter a segment they voided with the Scorpio’s demise in 1998. The new top Ford could then compete with the current crop of four-door coupés (Arteon, A5, CLS, 4-series), and being RWD, attract the performance crowd. Seems reasonable to me.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        Good luck selling a car with a Ford badge in that market. Wouldn’t justify the development cost anyway, apparently the Mondeo/Fusion is marginal enough as it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I believe GM makes two 4-door Camaro’s the ATS and CTS. As to why this would never work see the Lincoln LS, The ATS, Chevy SS, the G8, etc

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        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.


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