Delayed a Day, Ford Sales Also Take a Tumble

Lincoln a rare bright spot.

by on Nov.02, 2016

Ford's Super Duty provided a rare bright spot for the automaker in October.

A day late – and a dollar short, it seems, as Ford Motor Co. says its sales also took a double-digit dip during October, in line with the overall U.S. new car market slide.

The news wasn’t entirely bad, however, Ford reporting growth by its long-struggling luxury brand, Lincoln, as it rolls out an assortment of new and updated products, including the all-new Continental flagship sedan.

By the Numbers!

Ford issued its numbers after a day-long delay due to a fire that knocked out electrical power to its corporate headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. The rest of the industry didn’t fare especially well, even without Ford’s downward pull. While a few makers reported strong, and even record, sales for October, the market was down about 4% year-over-year.

(Click Here to see how the rest of the industry did last month.)

Ford said it was down 11.9% overall, despite a 6.9% jump by Lincoln. Once one of the perennial leaders of the U.S. luxury car market, Lincoln still only managed to move 9,069 vehicles in October, barely a third of high-line leaders like BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

The real drag for Ford was its namesake Blue Oval division which reported a 12.7% decline for the month, to 178,623 cars, trucks and crossovers.

Ford's passenger car sales have been lagging badly, forcing production cuts.

The maker has been propping up demand amidst a weakening U.S. market by putting more focus on fleets in recent months. But sales to daily rental companies and other corporate customers dipped 24% in October. And Ford’s retail business was down 7% even as it boosted its average incentives by about $180 compared to year-ago givebacks, according to Ford.

The real weak spot was on the car side reflecting both the impact of cheap gas and the ongoing market shift from sedans and other passenger vehicles to pickups, utility vehicles and other light truck models.

Not all the numbers were in the red for Ford, however. It did report a 9% increase in sales of its big Transit van, reflecting an overall upturn in the U.S. van market as manufacturers shift from conventional models to more European designs.

Ford also saw a 2% increase in retail sales of its F-Series pickups – long the best-selling vehicle line in the country. Adding in fleet demand, however, F-Series managed to stay in the black just barely, with an overall increase for October of 0.1%.

Driving that modest increase was the debut of the newly redesigned Super Duty pickup.

“High customer demand for our new Super Duty, including top-trim-level pickups, continues to boost transaction prices,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president for U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “New Super Duty is turning on dealer lots in just 18 days, and Ford’s average transaction prices are up $1,600 versus a year ago – far outpacing the industry average of $600.”

Acura was another maker to suffer a double-digit sales decline last month.

While utility vehicles have, on the whole, been propping up the American market in recent months, full-size pickup sales have been slipping and Ford recently announced a temporary suspension of production at its F-150 plant in Kansas City, along with the pickup plant in Louisville. The latter is expected to remain idled for at least the rest of this week.

(Falling used car sales may provide good value, but suspect safety. To see the story, Click Here.)

The second-largest of the Detroit makers also idled production of the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC lines, after a brief shutdown of its Mustang plant, all of those moves meant to bring down bloated inventories.

A number of other automakers posted double-digit declines, including Volkswagen and Mazda, as well as Honda’s own luxury arm, Acura.

“If anyone needed confirmation that the U.S. auto market is slowing, they got it with the October sales results,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

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