DEARBORN - Eighty-four percent of car shoppers in April said that the rising price of gas caused them to re-think the size and type of vehicle they wanted to buy, according to a survey published this week by Kelley Blue Book. And Ford is maintaining a strong position in the automotive market, satisfying a variety of consumer needs with its diverse portfolio of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Ford’s April sales were up 16 percent versus a year ago buoyed by car sales, which were up 26 percent over last year. Fiesta sales eclipsed 9,000 for the second month in a row, and the new Focus helped elevate Focus sales by 22 percent versus last year.
“We only had 500 new Focus vehicles in stock at the beginning of the month, and as the availability grew and shipments began to arrive at dealers, the sales pace picked up pretty dramatically,” said Ford Sales Analyst George Pipas. “I would expect that we are going to see another strong Focus sales month in May.
Pipas says that strong reviews from automotive critics have helped boost Fiesta and Focus sales.
“It’s really an enviable one-two punch that Ford dealers can offer their customers in this small car market,” he said. “We’ve never been in this situation before where we had such great small cars at just the time that gas prices are approaching $4 per gallon.”
Ford also reported an 11 percent increase versus last year in utility vehicle sales for the month of April, with the all-new Explorer recording its best April since 2006.
“Explorer is a very popular vehicle even as gas prices go past the $3.90 per gallon range on average,” said Pipas. “The fuel economy of the new Explorer is 25 percent better than the old model and offers customers 25 mpg on the highway when they go on family trips.”
According to Pipas, the largest increase in retail sales for the Ford brand was in California, where the new Fiesta, Focus and Explorer are helping Ford attract new customers.
“With these new products, we’re reaching customers who have never even considered a Ford in the past, and that’s the way you grow,” said Pipas. “To us, California is an emerging market in what is otherwise a mature market.”
At a time when filling up at the pump is a painful experience for most, the biggest April sales surprise may just be in the truck arena, where F-Series was Ford’s best-selling vehicle. Pipas says consumers have been embracing the truck’s new V6 engines – a 3.7-liter and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, which delivers both capability and fuel efficiency.
“The V6 engines for F-Series accounted for 50 percent of the new F-150 retail sales in April,” said Pipas. “We are definitely benefiting from the truck’s strong fuel economy proposition.”