says the transition from the outgoing Ford Escape cross/utility vehicle to the all-new ’13 model went off without a hitch in June, as overall sales of the popular CUV soared 15.2% to 25,650, marking its best-ever sales month.
Mark Fields, president-The Americas, says the new Escape is attracting conquest buyers.
“We’re getting a lot of new customers in it, and they’re not usualbuyers,” he tells WardsAuto in a recent interview. “They’re really struck by the design when they see it on the road, and we haven’t advertised it a lot.”
The all-new ’13 model only made up 40% of total Escape sales in June, but Fields says the turn rate of less than five days is better than when the auto maker launched the all-new Explorer SUV last year.
“Dealers are saying that, as car carriers are showing up, the vehicles are literally going out the same day,” he says.
In the year’s first six months, the Escape led the Middle CUV segment, as defined by WardsAuto. Through June, sales totaled 127,167 units. The closest competitor was theCR-V with 123,400. Other popular models in the segment included the Chevrolet Equinox, with 110,890, and the RAV4, with 89,438.
“(The) Escape is very important to us,” Fields says. “It’s in one of the biggest segments in the industry and one of the most cross-shopped. We have high expectations for it.”
The Escape outpaced Ford’s overall June sales, which were up 3.3% compared with year-ago, to 204,296 units on a daily selling rate basis. There were 27 selling days last month vs. 26 in 2011.
Ford Fusion deliveries were another highlight, climbing 12.6% to 23,211 units, for the sedan’s best-ever June result. The Mustang and Taurus also enjoyed robust sales, rising 11.8% and 20.1%, respectively.
Strong performers in the truck and utility segment included the F-Series, up 7.4%, and the Explorer, up 35.1%.
However, the Fiesta B-car suffered a poor month, with deliveries tumbling 20.1%, compared with year-ago, to 4,589 units. Despite the weak showing, Ken Czubay, Ford vice president-U.S. marketing, says in a conference call with analysts and reporters today that Fiesta sales are “on plan.”
Ford’s small Transit Connect van also fell from prior-year, down 13.3% to 2,693.
Czubay says most of Ford’s June increases were driven by retail sales, a positive trend for the auto maker as they tend to be more lucrative than fleet deliveries.
Ford’s total fleet mix for the month was 37%. Of that, 15% were to commercial fleets, 7% to government fleets and 15% rental-car companies.
The auto maker ended the month with 459,000 light vehicles in stock, including 144,000 cars, 201,000 trucks and 114,000 utility vehicles.