Ford’s U.S. April sales declined 1 percent versus last year, but it was still a solid month with 211,126 vehicles sold.
Responding to the slight drop in sales, Ford U.S. Sales Analyst Erich Merkle said it’s important to remember that last April was an unusually strong month.
“At this time last year we were getting both Fusion and Escape up and running. We had good stock and they were all-new products hitting the market,” he said. “So the year-over-year comparisons are very difficult.”
April sales figures were also impacted by a 24 percent decline in daily rentals.
“Because we’re launching so many new products this year, it’s been our plan to pull back on the amount of vehicles that we’re moving through daily rentals,” said Merkle. “That’s something that’s going to be with us all year long and it’s going to place some downward pressure on some of our overall sales results this year.”
There were several bright spots in April. For example, F-Series had its best April U.S. sales since 2006.
“What’s fascinating about the F-Series is that it is one of the oldest pickup trucks in the segment, but it continues to be in high demand and people still want to buy the vehicle with all the features and content that has made F-Series so popular over the years,” said Merkle. “We’ve had the lowest incentive spend of the top three full-size pickup truck brands in the marketplace and we’re at the upper end of average transaction prices with the full-size pickup segment. That’s amazing and it speaks volumes about the strength of F-Series.”
Fusion also had a solid month, posting its best April retail sales ever.
“Fusion continues to perform in the Western region of the country, with retail sales up 9 percent in April, bringing our retail sales increase year-to-date to 15 percent,” said Merkle.
And the Ford Explorer marked its best April sales performance since 2005.
“Explorer has been the best-selling mid-size utility for a few years now, and we had a tremendous launch when we introduced the all-new Explorer a few years back. It’s a product that just keeps moving higher,” said Merkle. “We’re making all we can in Chicago so our capacity is somewhat limited, but the Explorer continues to move higher as capacity allows.”
Explorer sales were particularly strong in New York and in California, where retail sales were up 11 and 33 percent respectively over last year.
Looking forward to the remainder of the year, Merkle said employees should be cognizant of the fact that it will continue to be challenging to beat 2013 sales figures.
“We’ve been talking about this. We’re going to continue to have low fleet sales, particular around daily rentals which will place some drag on overall sales,” he said. “And we’re going to have a record number of new products launching this year. These launches don’t help us in the year that they’re launched, but they will help us next year.”
With that said, Merkle said it’s important for employees to know that we have room for improvement on the retail side of our business going forward, but the real push will come again in 2015.
“The way to look at it is this is going to be a year of re-load,” he said. “We’re packing muskets right now as we prepare for year’s end and move into 2015.”