DEARBORN - Ford Motor Company’s overall U.S. sales for the month of August were strong – up 13 percent compared to last year – and Ford U.S. Sales Analyst Erich Merkle says the results are especially encouraging since a healthy percentage of the sales came from retail consumers.
“Our retail sales were up 19 percent, and that’s really good news,” he said. “We think there is still a great deal of pent-up demand for new vehicles due to the age of the vehicle population – which is as old as we’ve ever seen it – and we expect to see that continue to play out in the months and years to come.”
Ford’s August sales were solid, but they were not up as much as the overall industry average, which was up 19 percent fueled largely by gains from Toyota and Honda. However, Merkle points out that it is important to understand the real reason behind those “gains.”
“Toyota and Honda sales suffered at this time last year because of inventory availability due to the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in the spring. Neither automaker had sufficient inventory availability through most of last year and since they are comparing August figures against those inventory-constrained sales of last year, the year-over-year percentage change is going to be inordinately high,” Merkle explained.
“These weaker comparisons for Toyota and Honda are going to be with us through the end of this year.”
The Escape had its best August ever, with sales up 37 percent versus last year.
“Escape is still the fastest-turning vehicle on our dealer lots,” said Merkle. “And we’ve added a third crew at our Louisville Assembly Plant to meet the strong demand for the product.”
Focus also had a stellar month, with sales up 35 percent over last year, and Merkle says the largest market for Ford’s popular small car is California.
“It’s not only our largest market for Focus but it’s our fastest-growing market as well. We almost tripled our sales last month in the state of California, which is incredible,” he said. “If you want to look at where we needed to hit with Focus, California is the bull’s eye as it is the largest small car market in the country.”
F-Series posted its 13 straight month of sales increases and its best sales month this year. And Ford reached a major milestone in August with EcoBoost-equipped F-150s surpassing the 200,000 sales mark. The more fuel-efficient EcoBoost-equipped models account for roughly 40 percent of F-150 retail sales.
Speaking of EcoBoost, Merkle says 90 percent of 2013 Escape sales are for EcoBoost-equipped models.
“I think it shows that customers are really adapting and loving the engine for the combination of performance and fuel efficiency that it offers,” he said. “Customers don’t necessarily shop for torque but most of them feel it when they go to merge onto the highway. They feel the nice power, and that along with fuel economy is really what’s been driving EcoBoost success.”
Overall, Ford posted August sales gains in all three major vehicle segments: cars, trucks and utilities. Merkle says rising gas prices today work in Ford’s favor.
“Fuel prices play to our strong hand because we have a full lineup of cars, utilities and trucks all of which are now extremely fuel efficient in every segment of the market,” he said.