exits 2011 with sales of 2,110,832 light vehicles for an 11.0% gain on year-ago. But that increase would have dropped to 10% without two discontinued products, WardsAuto data indicates.
The Ranger small pickup truck that ended its run in December and the Crown Victoria fullsize sedan, which ceased production earlier in 2011, added 117,557 units to’s full-year results. Combined, the two models posted a 32% increase compared with year-ago.
The Ranger saw the best performance, delivering 70,832 units last year. In doing so, the small pickup outperformed some of Ford’s better-known nameplates, including the Mustang sports car with 68,574 and Fiesta B-car with 68,574.
The Crown Victoria racked up 46,725 sales, outpacing the Expedition fullsize SUV with 40,499 units and Transit Connect small commercial van with 31,914. The storied car ended the year with a whimper, posting a 76.0% decline in December with just 793 deliveries.
Ranger sales surged 57.3% to 6,718 in December, compared with year-ago, beating the Mustang with 5,057 units and Taurus flagship sedan with 5,650.
Ford does not expect a significant dropoff in sales with the discontinuation of the two models, expecting Ranger buyers to migrate to lower-end F-150 fullsize pickups and Crown Victoria loyalists, which are mostly fleet customers, to purchase the Taurus.
Both those models helped boost Ford’s December sales to 205,895 units, a 10.2% increase over like-2010. The auto maker says 152,937 of those were retail, its best result since 2005. Rentals made up only 7% of the total.
There were a few surprises in the month, including a 29.5% decline in Fiesta deliveries. Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst Erich Merkle blames the small car’s poor showing in part on a 12.0% gain for the Focus.
“There is no question that within the small-car segment (the) Fiesta and Focus are going to be very close together,” he says in a conference call with analysts and journalists. “On any lot there is a certain level of cross-shopping, so it’s possible we could have some jostling between the two.”
Fusion midsize sedan sales also took a hit in December, dipping 2.8% to 20,541. Ford’s total car deliveries were off 14.8% from year-ago to 55,215.
Light-truck sales fared better, posting a 23.6% increase in the month to 150,680 units. The Escape cross/utility vehicle remained a hot seller, jumping 29.2% from prior-year to 23,017, marking a record December result for the outgoing model. The F-150 pickup climbed 25.7% to 64,726, for its best December performance since 2006.
Merkle says Ford is not concerned with the dominance of light-truck sales, despite the recent introduction of new-car models.
“When you look at the mix, we’ve done very well,” he says, noting top-selling utilities mostly are made up of small CUVs.
Light trucks “are still a good part of our business,” but the types of vehicles customers are selecting are much different than those of five or six years ago, Merkle adds.