DEARBORN - Ford turned in its best U.S. retail sales performance in eight years with March sales driven higher by strong demand for F-Series trucks, Fusion, and Escape.
“March was a great month for Ford and the industry overall,” said Ford Sales Analyst Erich Merkle. “We saw a significant surge in sales about mid-month and a strong close to the month as spring started to arrive in many parts of the country.”
F-Series topped the 70,000-vehicle sales mark in March. That’s only happened four times in the last seven years, according to Merkle.
“With 70,940 pickups sold, we had our best month for F-Series sales since 2008, with sales up 5 percent over last year,” he said.
There was more good news for F-Series. Merkle said that according to Polk registration data, the half-ton V6 pickup truck segment grew 600 percent over the last three years and F-150 V6 trucks – both EcoBoost and the 3.7-liter – are responsible for a whopping 91 percent of that growth.
“You really can’t underestimate the significance of that,” he said. “It’s huge. People always ask me; how does F-Series continue to perform against new competitors from Ram and Chevrolet? A big part of our competitive edge is EcoBoost.”
Merkle said F-150 commands a 78 percent share of the half-ton V6 pickup truck segment.
“Prior to three years ago, people said pickup truck buyers want a V8, end of story. Things are much different today,” he said. “Our take rates for the month of March for the V6 F-150 were at 57 percent. That’s as high as they’ve ever been, with 45 percent coming from EcoBoost and 12 percent coming from the base 3.7-liter engine. In all actuality, Ford has made the V6 a very viable and in many ways a much more preferable alternative for consumers than the V8.”
Fusion also had an outstanding month with sales up 9 percent from last year’s record month.
2014 Ford Fusion
“March was the best sales month ever for Fusion since the vehicle was introduced in 2005,” said Merkle. “We saw the greatest growth in the West, with retail sales up 22 percent versus a year ago. And in the state of California, retail sales were up 32 percent.”
Merkle said he believes Fusion’s sales appeal in the western region of the country is due largely to its design and the variety of powertrains offered.
“I think it’s the appearance of the vehicle and its luxurious design. It says a lot when you have a very aspirational look to the vehicle. Not every vehicle in the segment is able to accomplish that,” he said. “The diversity of the powertrains – from the EcoBoost to the Hybrid and Energi versions – also contributes to the vehicle’s sales success.”
Escape was down 1 percent in March, but Merkle said it’s important to look a little closer at the numbers. While the overall sales figure was off slightly, Escape retail sales were up 9 percent, providing the small utility vehicle with its best retail sales month ever since it first went on sale in 2000.
“This segment is burning blue right now. It is that hot! It is a trend that will continue to play itself out this decade as more and more baby boomers move into empty nester status. Kids leave home and their parents still very much like the idea of a utility vehicle,” said Merkle. “They have been driving utility vehicles for 20 years. They just want smaller utilities that better meet the needs of an empty nester. They don’t need as much room.”