DEARBORN - “Buckle up because this is going to be a year like none of us have ever experienced at Ford,” said Ford Sales Analyst Erich Merkle after presenting Ford’s U.S. May sales figures to media and industry analysts on Monday.
Ford’s May U.S. sales were up 14 percent over last year and retail sales were up even higher at 17 percent. Ford showed gains in all vehicle segments – cars, utilities and trucks – and that, says Merkle, is what makes this recovery much different than those of the past for Ford.
“In the past Ford really just rode the economic cycles because our portfolio was so heavily based around the full-size pickup truck,” he explained. “Now we are growing our business across our entire range of products. We’re gaining market share in utilities and cars with our newest products as people continue to move toward smaller vehicles and we’re benefitting from the cyclical recovery that is happening in the pickup side of the business.”
Speaking of pickups, F-Series posted a tremendous 31 percent sales increase in May versus the same time last year. It was the best May sales since 2005 and the first time F-Series broke the 70,000 sales mark since March of 2007.
Merkle says F-Series sales were spurred primarily by growth in the housing industry.
“This is really indicative of the housing industry coming back,” he said. “The full-size pickup truck segment has been increasing since 2009, but it’s been in line with the overall industry. The cyclical recovery in pickups is now, and it’s growing at a rate almost three times the industry.”
It was also a stellar sales month for the Ford Escape. Sales were up 26 percent over last year, making May the best-ever sales month since the vehicle was introduced 13 years ago.
“Escape continues to perform in traditional markets such as the Great Lakes regions, but it is also allowing us to take the sales growth that’s coming from nontraditional areas like the coasts,” said Merkle, noting that the Escape helped drive Ford’s coastal share of the utility segment by one full point in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, competitive with Toyota and Honda as coastal utility segment leaders.
In Miami, Escape posted a nearly 50 percent increase in retail sales over last year. And in San Francisco, Washington (D.C.), Los Angeles and Seattle, the Escape scored significant competitive conquests, taking sales from traditional powerhouses Toyota and Honda.
Another vehicle doing particularly well on the coasts is the new Ford Fusion, which posted its best-ever May sales.
“Fusion loves the beach,” said Merkle with a smile. “Our retail coastal share for Fusion has doubled, growing from 4.5 percent of the coastal mid-size sedan segment in 2008 to its current first quarter retail share levels of approximately 9 percent. That says a lot about the product.”
Sales of “super segment” vehicles – which include Fusion and Escape as well as small cars Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX Hybrids – were up 19 percent in May, Ford’s best sales month ever for that particular group of vehicles.
The largest U.S. market for vehicles in the super segment is California where 56 percent of retail sales are made up of small cars, utilities and mid-size cars.
“California retail sales of our super segment vehicles were up 37 percent in May and 53 percent through the first five months of this year,” said Merkle. “Based on retail registration data to date, we now have our highest share ever at approximately 8.5 percent of the segment in California. That is more than a 2 percentage point increase over last year and more than doubles our share in 2007.”