DEARBORN -- Despite challenges to the auto industry – such as fluctuating gas prices and lingering effects from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami – Ford’s U.S. vehicle sales remained steadfast for the month of June, up 14 percent versus a year ago.
Ford Sales Analyst George Pipas says Ford’s balanced portfolio of vehicles is the key to the company’s continued growth.
“A few years ago it would have been unthinkable that Ford could do well in the market if the full-size pickup segment softened as it did in the second quarter,” he said. “Yet we’ve managed to achieve a level of market share that’s equal to a year ago.”
Pipas says Ford has offset the softness in the full-size pickup segment with product offerings like F-150 with the new V6 engine, the new Explorer and two new small cars, the Fiesta and the Focus.
“From Fiesta to F-Series, our vehicles are resonating with customers,” he said. “With a balanced portfolio of vehicles we can do well when the external factors aren’t moving in our direction as we can when they are right in the Ford sweet spot.”
Ford’s F-Series truck remained the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. with June sales up 7 percent. And for the second consecutive month, sales of the F-150 with the new V6 engines continued to outsell V8s.
“V6s haven’t outsold V8s since the mid-80s, so that’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment,” said Pipas.
Retail sales of the Ford Explorer were up a whopping 259 percent over last year. In the first six months of 2011 alone, Explorer sales eclipsed last year’s full-year sales.
“Explorer really hit a chord with the contemporary utility customer with its fuel economy and the level of technology that’s provided in all vehicle systems – not only in infotainment but in safety and powertrain as well,” said Pipas. “It has definitely been one of the surprises in this year’s results for Ford.”
The Ford Focus and Fiesta – the fastest-turning models in Ford dealer showrooms – account for 40 percent of Ford’s growth in U.S. sales in 2011 versus the first six months of 2010. Both vehicles recently were named to Kelley Blue Book’s 2011 Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000.
“Focus and Fiesta are driving our share to five-year highs in California, which is not a traditional geographic area of strength for Ford,” said Pipas. “And they are helping us increase our market share in the Southeast and Eastern parts of the U.S. as well.”
Lincoln sales were up 17 percent in June versus a year ago, paced by higher sales for the Lincoln MKZ, MKS and MKX.
“We’ve seen some modest growth at Lincoln this year, and its share of the premium market has stabilized. I think we’re on a path to make Lincoln stronger,” said Pipas. “But it won’t happen overnight. It took a few years and a lot of hard work to strengthen our Ford car business, but we did it.”
Industry sales rates were noticeably lower in May and June than they were at the start of the year – a dip that will likely draw a lot of media attention – but Pipas says Ford is still forecasting U.S. auto sales for 2011 to be between 13 and 13.5 million, including medium and heavy trucks.
“Our view is that we would expect to see higher sales rates by the end of summer when inventory shortages are alleviated and the second half of the year to be stronger than the first half,” he said.