Lincoln is the only bright spot in Ford’s November sales report

Ford and Lincoln brands combined sold nearly twice as many utilities (70,564) as cars (36,204) last month. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. light-vehicle sales fell 7.1 percent in November as a modest gain for the Lincoln luxury brand couldn’t offset losses in nearly every other segment.

The automaker’s car sales plummeted 20 percent, utility sales dropped 4.9 percent and pickup sales declined 0.9 percent last month. Ford’s losses were exacerbated by a 7.1 percent drop in fleet sales because of the timing of orders by daily rental companies. Lincoln’s 3.3 percent gain was the lone bright spot, driven by the continued success of the Navigator SUV and the freshened Nautilus crossover.

Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said fleet sales are likely to fall again in December, and the automaker is battling consumers’ continued exodus from sedans into utilities and pickups. Although those segments also declined this month, LaNeve said they represent a much healthier part of Ford’s business.

“This mix [of pickups, utilities and vans] totaled 82 percent in November, boosting our transaction pricing to a new record of $37,000 per vehicle,” he said.

Ford and Lincoln brands combined sold nearly twice as many utilities (70,564) as cars (36,204) last month.

“The market continues to abandon cars, with no end in sight,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement. “This is the reality that recently drove Ford and GM to announce plans to further reduce car production. Who can blame them?”

Sales of Ford’s F-series pickups fell for a third straight month, but it still sold more than 70,000 units for the ninth consecutive month.



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Brands: Ford down 7.6%, Lincoln up 3.3%

Notable nameplates: Ford F series down 0.9%, Ford Mustang down 27%, Ford Fusion up 12%, Ford Focus down 66%, Ford Escape down 14%, Ford Edge down 26%, Ford Explorer down 15%, Lincoln Continental down 27%, Lincoln MKX/Nautilus up 20%, Lincoln Navigator up 27%

Incentives: $4,461 per vehicle, down 4.4% from a year earlier, according to ALG

Average transaction price: $38,282, up 3.7% from a year earlier, according to ALG

Fleet mix: 25.9%, up 0.1 percentage point from November 2017

Inventory: 668,234, an 85-day supply. That compares with 643,400, an 87-day supply, as of Nov. 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

Quote: “We’re not spending incentive dollars to drive a number,” LaNeve said of the Explorer’s and Escape’s poor sales numbers near the end of their life cycles.

Did you know? After a strong first half of 2018, it appears the F series will fall short of a full-year sales record. Ford sold 821,558 pickups through 11 months and would need to sell 117,954 in December to break the record set in 2004. Still, the automaker is on pace to sell about 913,000 of the hugely profitable pickups, which would be first time topping 900,000 since 2005.

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