DEARBORN - Ford ended 2012 on a high note, earning the distinction of being the only automotive brand to top 2 million U.S. sales.
“Prior to the recession it was fairly commonplace for larger brands to be above 2 million, but we are the first automaker to cross that threshold since 2007,” said Ford U.S. Sales Analyst Erich Merkle, noting that Ford also surpassed 2 million U.S. sales in 2011.
Merkle attributes Ford’s sales leadership to a number of factors.
“It’s the diversity of our product lineup, the advanced technology that we offer in our vehicles and our focus on fuel efficiency, particularly as it relates to all of the great new EcoBoost and hybrid products that are coming onto the stage,” he said.
Small car sales were particularly strong in 2012, up 29 percent over 2011.
“It shows that people are responding very well to our small car lineup,” said Merkle. “Not only are we making gains in the overall small car segment, but we’re advancing in the biggest small car market in the country, which is California. Focus retail sales in California were up 83 percent in 2012 versus 2011.”
The success of the Focus extends beyond U.S. borders, according to Merkle.
“The most recent Polk data shows that Focus is the number-one-selling vehicle nameplate in the world,” he said. “That comes from continued strength in Europe and a rapidly expanding Asian market.”
Merkle says sales of Ford’s newest small car, the C-MAX, are robust.
“The C-MAX launched in September and it has had the fastest start of any hybrid vehicle in the industry,” he said.
Ford also performed well with utility vehicles, becoming America’s best-selling brand of utility vehicles in 2012 for the second consecutive year.
“That’s really been driven by the success with Escape which had another record year in 2012 and also by Explorer which continues to expand in the marketplace,” said Merkle. “Edge sales were also up 5 percent versus last year. So we have three really successful utility products from a sales perspective – Escape, Explorer and Edge – and all are expanding and cohabitating nicely on dealer lots.”
And the gift that keeps on giving – F-Series – certainly didn’t disappoint in 2012. Sales were up 10 percent over 2011, making F-Series America’s best-selling pickup for the 36th straight year and the best-selling vehicle for 31 consecutive years.
“We continue to maintain a dominant position in the segment, and we’re really excited about it particularly as we start to see improvements in the housing and construction areas of our economy,” said Merkle.
Ford also maintained its position as America’s largest maker of commercial trucks for 28 years.
“We posted a 7 percent increase in 2012 over last year, and that marks our best year for commercial truck sales since 2008,” said Merkle.
Merkle says employees should be proud of all of the accomplishments made in 2012.
“As we look back, we had a tremendous number of new products coming into the marketplace in 2012, and we added 400,000 units of straight-line capacity to coincide with the addition of those new vehicles,” he said. “It has been an incredible amount of work by the entire team to make it all happen and in 2013 the additional capacity and new products will all come together to push our sales higher.”
The overall auto industry finished 2012 at 14.8 million units. Merkle says Ford’s sales outlook for U.S. industry sales in 2013 is between 15 and 16 million units.
“It’s our belief that the auto industry will continue to expand in 2013,” he said. “One proof point that encapsulates our confidence in Ford and in the industry is our first quarter production guidance of 750,000 vehicles, which is an 11 percent increase over the first quarter of last year.”