I saw Ford’s latest sales numbers on BlueOvalNews recently. Battling insomnia, I took a look. Despite Ford’s attempt to put a cheerful spin on the numbers, I see some very disturbing trends which should rattle any Ford fans who are paying attention.
- Jaguar is catatonic*. Nothing subtle here, -41% sales from Q1 2005. They need some product, and the need it soon. Sales of the recently redesigned flagship, the aluminium bodied XJ are off 40%. The X-Type and S-Type shouldn’t even be discussed in polite company.
- The nearly forgotten Taurus sold more units, 55,833, than Fusion + Five Hundred (22,962 + 29,845 = 52,807). This had better change, or… The Fusion and 500 were supposed to replace the Taurus, and mark the beginning of Ford’s competitiveness in the car business. I hate to sound like TTAC, but this is starting to look like a disaster.
- The Mustang is selling at about the same rate as the Focus. That is, Ford is letting the Focus wither. The Focus should be a bread-and-butter car for Ford. The Mustang is nice, but it is more of a toy, not a car for the masses.
- Freestyle sales are firming up. This is good, Ford is probably recapturing some customers who are dumping the Explorer (-25.4% vs Q1 2005).
- The Explorer, a high-profit vehicle, is not doing well after a significant update. GM’s Trailblazer/Envoy had a similar decline, but it was not updated in some time. Which means that Ford plowed millions of dollars into the Explorer update for very little return. There is a pattern here.
- Sales of the Escape declined by 4.2%, even with the ramp up of Escape Hybrid production. Another example of Ford letting a key product slide for too long before an improvement–everyone else (Honda, Toyota) has since redesigned their compact SUVs.
- Sales of the Freestar minivan have collapsed at a Jaguar-like pace: -34% from last year. Again, after a major update to the product, which included adding a new powertrain, structural changes, and an all new interior.
- The F-series (F-150, F-250, etc.), which make up fully half of Ford’s truck volume, showed an increase. This goes to show that fuel prices are not necessarily the driving factor in the sales of light trucks–product appeal is. Heavy trucks showed an even larger gain, +7%.
- Volvo is not doing well, either. The new S40 declined by 4% instead of advancing. The new V50 was off by 27%. Even Volvos best seller, the XC90 SUV, which just got a Yamaha V8, slid by 2%. Some of this may be attributed to currency exchange issues, which make Volvos more expensive.
- Land Rover’s relatively new LR3 declined by 9.2%.
You can’t really guess profitability from sales numbers, but from the trends, it looks like Ford is being kept afloat mostly by Mustang, F-series, and commercial fleets. This despite all the hoopla about “the year of the car”. Management can make excuses about fuel prices hurting SUV sales, but then how they explain the decline of the Escape and the rise of the F-150? Recent redesigns of some key products did not appear to hold the line, while other segments such as small car and small SUV are being neglected.
How long can this continue?
*Get it? Jag? Cat…