Motor Co.’s core Blue Oval brand sold 140,857 vehicles in October, besting second-place Chevrolet by 16,641 units and by 21,128, according to Ward’s data.
Themarque earlier in the year was jockeying for position with and Chevrolet as the best-selling nameplate in the U.S., but no more as it takes the top spot for the seventh-straight month in October.
With the exception of January and March, when Chevrolet and Toyota, respectively, held the top spot, the Ford has reigned supreme all year.
The trend is in stark contrast to 2009, when Ford was the top-selling brand only twice, trailing the leader by about 10,000 units nearly every month.
The auto maker’s success in October was due to a 23.6% jump in its light-vehicle sales to 155,168 units on a daily basis, with 27 selling days this year and 28 in like-2009.
Unlike the past, where Ford depended on SUVs and pickups for its momentum, the auto maker now boasts a balanced portfolio that will keep it well-positioned, says Ken Czubay, Ford vice president-sales and marketing.
“When we started to reinvent Ford, the objective was to be profitable at a lower volume and changed mix,” he says in a conference call with analysts and reporters. “We have accomplished that mission. And that means we are less vulnerable to shifts in consumer demand.”
Ford’s its renewed concentration on cars and cross/utility vehicles has led to more diverse consumer base. Czubay says the company is seeing a sales increase among all age groups and every region of the country, including the West Coast, where domestic auto makers traditionally underperform.
Ford’s October deliveries showed dramatic increases in most categories, including the truck segment, where F-Series pickup sales climbed 28.6% to 46,559 units and the Transit Connect small/utility van skyrocketed 77% to 2,577.
The E-Series van also had a strong showing, with deliveries up 29.7% to 5,910 vs. year-ago.
Sales of the Ford trucks were spurred in part by an increase in commercial buyers. Commercial fleet deliveries jumped 53%, marking the 13th consecutive month of gains in the segment.
“Commercial customers of every variety want to participate in the Ford business,” Czubay says, noting sales generally are more profitable than those to rental-car companies.
While increases in commercial fleet deliveries typically reflect an economic upturn, that’s not necessarily the case in October, Czubay says.
“We are seeing sequential improvements in business activity, but when you look at the scrappage rate exceeding the buy rate there’s a need for some replacement,” he says. “Our customers are telling us they’re doing the math and they’re better off buying than putting money into repairs.”
Ford’s overall fleet mix for the month was 29%, of which only 8% was to daily rentals.
The auto maker in October delivered 3,846 Fiestas, which on average are fetching industry-leading transaction rates, Czubay says. Fiestas are selling at “well over $17, 000,” he says. “That’s in excess of many C-segment vehicles. And I don’t think we’ve hit our stride with (the) Fiesta yet.”
The Fusion C/D-segment car also performed well, setting an October record with 15,705 sales for a 22.3% year-over-year increase.
Other notable performers included the Focus C-car, up 27.0%, Escape cross/utility vehicle, up 23.4%, and Mustang, up 15.1%,
Sales of the Lincoln luxury brand lagged behind the Ford marque, posting a decrease with the exception of the MKX CUV, which rose 3.7%, and the soon-to-be-discontinued Town car, up 185% on a modest volume.
Czubay says he expects Lincoln to bounce back once Mercury is wound down at year’s end and work begins on freshening the luxury lineup. He points to the increased sales of the redesigned MKX as evidence of where the marque is heading.
“Where we’ve started product improvement, we’re showing improvement,” he says. “We know we have a long way to go.”