DEARBORN - One needs to take a deeper look into Ford’s U.S. sales for July in order to fully understand the company’s sales performance last month, according to Ford U.S. Sales Analyst Erich Merkle.
“Total U.S. sales for July were up 11 percent compared to last year – falling short of competitors like Toyota and GM and analyst expectations – but it is due to the fact that we filled a large fleet order in June that represented 35 percent of total sales that month,” he said. “July was markedly softer on the fleet side in comparison. Outside analysts overestimated our fleet performance last month.”
Retail sales provide a more accurate look at Ford’s performance, says Merkle – up 19 percent over last year, making it the best July retail sales month since 2005.
“It was another terrific month,” said Merkle. “I think it speaks volumes not only for Ford but for the entire industry because the retail consumer is really back in the automotive market now.”
Merkle says July retail sales could’ve surged even higher if not for tight inventories on some of Ford’s key vehicles like the Fusion, Focus and Explorer.
“In some of our key coastal markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami Fusions were turning in about two weeks,” he said. “Generally, a vehicle might take about two months before it’s sold off a dealer’s lot. So it’s really important that we get the 1,400 folks at Flat Rock turning out Fusions so that we can support our markets for Fusion.”
Merkle says inventories were under 40 days for the Focus.
“That’s a little too tight for us,” he said. “Focus and C-MAX are in great demand. We’ll be able to restock inventory on Focus as the small car segment goes through a seasonal tapering in the fall and winter months.”
The Explorer is also turning very quickly on dealer lots.
“We are going to do everything we can to get more Explorers out of Chicago as Explorer sales are so robust,” said Merkle.
Merkle says inventory limitations can impact Ford’s market share.
“If the market grows and your inventory has a ceiling or cap, you’ll lose share because you won’t be able to keep pace with the market,” explained Merkle.
Despite tight supplies, retail car sales were up 13 percent, utilities were up 19 percent and trucks were up 27 percent.
“Ford small car sales – including Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX hybrids – increased 32 percent over last year providing us with our best July monthly small car sales performance since 2000,” said Merkle.
Ford utility vehicles Edge, Explorer and Escape are on pace for a record-setting year.
“If you look at retail share for Escape, it’s up three full points since 2008 in New York. That’s important because one out of every ten utilities is sold in the New York region. It’s the biggest utility market in the country,” said Merkle. “And that three-point share increase since 2008 is better than any American or Japanese brand in the segment.”
F-Series trucks also performed strongly in July, with sales up 23 percent over last year.
“Over the last three months, we’ve sold more than 200,000 F-Series trucks and we’re not even in industry truck sales season yet,” said Merkle. “It’s a sales rate that no other vehicle in the industry enjoys.”