Blue Oval Seesaws in February, but Another Good Month for Lincoln
Just how much the polar vortex and a chillier than normal February weighed on U.S. vehicle sales is up for debate, but Ford Motor Company felt the buying public’s cold shoulder last month. Actually, make that just the Ford brand. The Blue Oval division saw a 5.1 percent drop in sales, year over year, last month, thought its luxury stablemate continued its strong early 2019 showing.
The good news for Lincoln comes before anyone has a chance to buy what’s widely seen as the brand’s savior: the Aviator midsize crossover.
As Ford no longer issues sales data on a monthly basis, we’re left to grapple with info doled out from a few sources. Don’t worry — there’ll be a monthly sales roundup from Matthew Guy just as soon as all the data falls into place.
The Automotive News Data Center shows the Ford brand underperformed in a market that sank 4.4 percent in February, though how this shakes out in terms of retail/fleet mix is unknown. (In January, sales rose 6.5 percent.)
One thing weighing on the brand is the continuing passenger car cull.
Sales of Ford cars fell 37 percent, year over year, last month, thanks to discontinued production of the Fiesta and Focus and the continued decline of remaining models. The Taurus bites the this month, so get that tombstone-shaped layer cake ready. Not helping matters was a 3.1 percent decline in F-Series truck sales; given the line’s gargantuan volume and fleet popularity, these monthly tallies can be quite variable. Fear not, because the new Ranger added its own volume during its first full month on the market. Some 2,899 Rangers left U.S. lots in February.
Lincoln, which closed 2018 down 6.8 percent (its worst showing in four years), is having a sunny first couple of months of 2019. January’s U.S. tally rose 20.4 percent, year over year, and February’s cold winds didn’t keep buyers away. The brand’s sales rose 15 percent last month. Sales of the full-size Navigator continue to climb more than a year after the current generation’s release, up 33 percent over the previous February. The refreshed and renamed Nautilus (formerly MKX) saw its sales rise 27 percent, year over year, confirming that the uptick seen at the end of 2018 wasn’t a one-month blip. Even the MKZ sedan saw a YoY increase of a paltry 1.4 percent.
Average incentive spend, one should note, rose 1.7 percent in February.
While some Lincolns had a good month, don’t count the Continental among them. The brand’s flagship sedan may have sold out its “coach door” models in a hurry, but sales of the conventional rig sank to their lowest point since the car’s launch.
Lincoln stands to see a volume boost once its swanky Aviator appears in showrooms this summer, and Ford buyers can expect a new Explorer at the same time. Once the Aviator, which dons an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain, makes it to lots, the next new product for Lincoln is the compact Corsair crossover — a successor to the MKC, due out for the 2020 model year.
[Image: Ford Motor Company]
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