posted a 9.9% increase in daily U.S. sales to 187,675 in October, despite lower gasoline prices that may have had an adverse impact on hybrid and small-car deliveries and a brief government shutdown that shook consumer confidence.
According to the insurance group AAA, the average U.S. price per gallon of gasoline is $3.27, $0.23 lower than year-ago.C-Max hybrid sales in October declined 23.4%, while Focus C-car deliveries dropped 20.5%, according to WardsAuto data.
However, Ford officials warn not to draw a correlation between falling gasoline prices and declining C-Max and Focus sales, contending it’s too early to tell if a trend is occurring.
John Felice, Ford’s vice president-U.S. marketing, sales and service, notes C-Max sales were up 16% compared with September and suggests Focus deliveries may have been hurt by a growing small-CUV segment.
“One of the trends we’re seeing is growth in the small-utility segment,” he says in a conference call with reporters and analysts to discuss October sales results. “This is the third (consecutive) month (small CUVs) were at about a 15% mix of the industry. The source of that shift comes from the car side of the business.”
The partial government shutdown, which took place Oct. 1-17, caused a “lumpy” start to the month, Felice says.
“It’s difficult to put an estimate on the impact (of the shutdown), but we’re encouraged by what we saw in overall performance,” he says, adding it’s hard to tell whether the shutdown led to pent-up demand that will drive sales in the coming months.
Although Focus sales fell, Fiesta deliveries jumped 4.6% to 4,337, marking an October record for the B-car.
Fusion demand skyrocketed 64.9% vs. year-ago to 21,740, as inventory levels were bolstered by added production at Ford’s Flat Rock, MI, assembly plant.
Erich Merkle, U.S. sales analyst, declines to say whether the Fusion will continue its meteoric growth now that Flat Rock is online.
“I think we’re in a good (Fusion-inventory) position with where we’re at now,” he says. “We feel good about Fusion.”
Other models posting strong gains in October include the Ford Mustang, (25.0%), Taurus (18.7%), Escape (8.0%), Explorer (3.5%) and Lincoln MKZ (73.5%).
Ford ended October with 644,000 light vehicles in inventory, including 166,000 utility vehicles, 262,000 trucks and 216,000 cars, equating to 91 days’ supply overall, well above the 60 days’ supply considered ideal.
Merkle says Ford is not concerned about its swelling inventory, noting the automaker is preparing for strong sales to close out the year.
“We’re getting ready for what we anticipate to be a strong seasonal period in November and December,” he says. “We’re committed to match supply to demand and we feel good about our position.”