DEARBORN - Gas prices hovering at the $4 per gallon mark throughout the country are putting the One Ford plan through a major test, and the company appears to be advancing to the head of the class, according to Ford Sales Analyst George Pipas.
“The environment that we’re operating in today really puts to the test all the hard work that Ford employees have invested for the last few years,” he said. “Our powertrain engineering team has been very busy, and they’ve given us fantastic products to the point where we are able to compete effectively even when gas prices are increasing.”
May sales figures show strong consumer demand for Ford’s new fuel-efficient vehicles and powertrains. Sales of the Fiesta and Focus earned Ford its biggest small car month since May of 2008.
“Between the Fiesta and the Focus we almost had 30,000 small car sales, up 74 percent versus a year ago,” said Pipas, adding that both vehicles are making a strong impact in the state of California.
“The Fiesta and the Focus really drove our California share to a level that we haven’t seen in six years, and six years ago we were offering employee pricing to everybody,” he said. “That just shows you how our share is advancing in a very important state for Ford – it’s a big state and a big small car market and therein lies the opportunity for growth.”
Sales of the Fusion and Escape continued to be strong in May. It was the second highest month ever for the Fusion, and Escape sales increased 21 percent.versus last year with more customers opting for 4-cylinder versus 6-cylinder models.
“When the Fusion was first introduced, it was a 50-50 mix between 4- and 6-cylinder models, and now 80 percent of customers are choosing the 4-cylinder engine,” said Pipas. “A few years ago, most customers chose the Escape with the V6 engine. Today it’s a 50-50 mix.”
May sales of the Explorer were the highest they’ve been in four years.
“It’s a very strong performance for the Explorer,” said Pipas. “This is the first time in 47 months that we’ve had sales over 13,000. Next month, we will likely surpass 2010 full-year sales.”
Truck sales were lower in May – down 15 percent versus a year ago – with higher gas prices likely causing some buyers to defer purchases, according to Pipas. But Ford’s F-Series truck remained the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. The new 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine accounted for 41 percent of F-150 retail sales in May, up 4 percentage points from April. The total V6 mix, including the new 3.7-liter engine, was 55 percent, surpassing sales of F-150s equipped with V8s.
“We’ve got so many products that are just spinning like a top,” said Pipas. “We’re making great progress, and it’s going to get better. The best is yet to come.”