DEARBORN - July was a positive month for Ford and Lincoln U.S. vehicle sales, but employees must maintain a laser focus on the One Ford plan moving forward, according to Ford Sales Analyst George Pipas.
“We’re very encouraged by the improvement in the pace of auto sales from June to July, but we’re still operating in a very challenging business environment,” he said.
Ford’s July sales were up 9 percent versus a year ago, with Fiesta and Fusion both posting higher sales than the same period last year. And though Focus sales were down 3 percent versus a year ago, Fiesta and Focus were the fastest-turning vehicles on the Ford showroom floor.
“The fact that Focus sales were down is not a true indicator,” said Pipas, explaining that demand for Ford’s all-new car has been stronger than anticipated resulting in a tight inventory condition.
Pipas says the company’s goal with all vehicles is to align production with demand.
“When there is an imbalance – particularly if there is too much product – that often leads to discounting, which has an adverse effect on a customer’s resale value and consequently on a customer’s satisfaction with the product when they go to trade it in,” he explained. “We would rather have a hot product and be short than have excess inventory.”
Explorer inventories have improved over the last several months, according to Pipas, but they’re still pretty tight. Explorer sales were up 108 percent versus a year ago.
“The success of the Explorer year over year is partly related to the fact that this is a 21st century product and last year’s model was a 20th century product, and the new 2.0-liter Ecoboost is going to be even better,” he said.
Ford truck sales were slightly higher than last year in July, up 1 percent.
“Full-size pickups are performing pretty much in line with the overall industry,” he said. “F-Series transaction prices in both the light-duty and heavy-duty pickup segments are the strongest in the industry, and our share of the segment remains strong. The new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is a huge hit with truck buyers. It’s an impressive overall performance.”
Lincoln’s year-to-date sales were up 1 percent versus the same period last year and up 40 percent in July.
Pipas says Lincoln sales were buoyed by recent awards the brand received for customer satisfaction and reliability. Lincoln was rated the most dependable brand in the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study, and – among individual models – the MKZ sedan ranked second in reliability. In addition, Lincoln was named the top brand in the 2011 AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.
“We’ve stabilized Lincoln’s position in the marketplace, and now we’re starting to build a foundation from which we can move forward with our plan to make it a world-class luxury brand,” said Pipas.
“We have a dedicated product, sales and marketing team, and we haven’t yet started the cavalcade of new product introductions,” he said. “We will have seven new or significantly redesigned products in the next three years so we know that we’re just in the first inning of this game, but it’s a positive to see Lincoln moving in an upward direction.”
Looking forward to the coming months, Pipas says employees should feel confident but remain focused on improvement.
“July was a positive month, but there is still a high level of uncertainty about the pace of economic recovery,” he said. “We have to keep executing the One Ford plan.”