The auto maker says hybrid owners are attracted tobecause they want a more “balanced approach” to their vehicle.
C-Max hybrid attracting new buyers to Ford showrooms.
credits its 17.1% increase in U.S. sales in June to a number of factors, including pent-up demand for new vehicles, consumers seeking the latest technology and an influx of buyers migrating from other brands.
The auto maker’s hybrid-electric vehicles drew a particularly high number of conquests last month, says Ken Czubay, vice president-U.S. marketing, sales and service.
“Conquests for hybrids have been significant,” he says in a conference call with analysts and journalists. “Consumers are coming into showrooms that haven’t been for a long time. Trade-ins are at some of the highest levels.”
Czubay says hybrid owners are seeking out suchmodels as the Fusion and C-Max hybrids, because they want a more “balanced approach” and value the styling of the two vehicles.
Lincoln MKZ hybrid conquests also were strong, he says, noting 50% of that model’s U.S. buyers are coming over from other brands. “We’re seeing consumers we haven’t seen in the premium market.”
Fusion and MKZ hybrid sales in June were up 298.3% and 76.8%, respectively, according to WardsAuto data. Sales of the C-Max, which hit the market in September, totaled 3,344 units for the month.
Several non-hybrid vehicles also turned in a good June sales performance, particularly the auto maker’s small-car lineup.
Collectively, sales of the Fiesta, Focus and C-Max totaled 35,852 for the month, up 39% from last year. Fiesta saw the most dramatic increase, with deliveries climbing 111.8% to 9,363 units, as Ford continues rolling out the ’14-model version of the small car.
Erich Merkle, Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst, says the auto maker is in sell-down mode of the ’13 Fiesta, but notes there weren’t heavy incentives placed on the older model.
“We’re transitioning to the new Fiesta model now,” he says. “Sixty percent of Fiesta sales in June were the old model and 40% the new model. We’re seeing a strong push there.”
Key Ford cross/utility vehicles saw increases in June, with the Escape small CUV up 4.5% to 28,694 units and the Edge midsize CUV posting a 37.4% year-over-year gain to 13,579.
The Escape’s tally represented the model’s best-ever monthly result and marked the fifth straight time this year it set record sales.
Demand for the Fusion midsize sedan rose 3.3% compared with like-2012 to 24,313 units, but Czubay says sales were hampered by capacity constraints at Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant. Additional Fusion capacity will be added at the Flat Rock, MI, joint-venture facility this fall.
“(We) accomplished the (Fusion) sales gain with thin stock,” Czubay says. “Some regions are under 30 days’ supply. The summer months will be tight until Flat Rock comes on line.”
Ford’s fleet mix in June was 35%, which breaks down to 13% commercial buyers, 6% government and 16% to daily rental.
Czubay says Ford is taking a steady approach to that market, noting its percentage of fleet sales remains consistent with year-ago levels. He also maintains heavy fleet sales aren’t leading to shortages of retail units, especially of the hot-selling Fusion and Escape.
Ford’s commercial-fleet business in particular is important to the auto maker, Czubay says. “Our commercial business has…a loyal owner body. It’s a good part of a balanced business.”
Ford ended June with 552,000 light vehicles in inventory, including 138,000 utility vehicles, 250,000 trucks and 164,000 cars, equating to 59 days’ supply overall.