Allnew Navigator aids Fordrsquos endofyear sales gain

All-new Navigator aids Ford’s end-of-year sales gain.

Ford Dips Slightly in 2017, Optimistic for 2018

Surprisingly strong December sales send Ford out on a positive note, setting up a good start for 2018 with all-new large SUVs, a refreshed Mustang and the small EcoSport SUV on tap.

Ford’s overall light-vehicle sales dipped 1.2% in 2017 despite a strong finish that saw a 5.1% increase in December’s daily sales rate, driven by healthy truck and SUV deliveries. Those came in adverse weather that typically might have chilled year-end traffic.

Ford sold 234,896 vehicles last month, including 48,380 cars, down 1.9%, and 118,516 light trucks, up 7.1%, on a daily-sales basis compared with year-ago levels, WardsAuto data shows. December had 26 selling days, one less than year-ago.

Ford delivered a total of 2,512,881 light vehicles for the year, including 1,917,491 trucks (+3.7%) and 595,390 cars (-14.2%).

Mark LaNeve, vice president-U.S. marketing, sales and service, says despite cold temperatures in December across a wide swath of the country, Ford saw a strong finish to the year. With sales of large SUVs up and the debut of the compact EcoSport SUV imminent, LaNeve says “there’s really good reason to be optimistic in the coming year.”

The car segment continued its decline, exacerbated by a slide in luxury-vehicle sales, as consumers continued to choose trucks and SUVs to replace their sedans. Market research shows consumers now consider mid- and large SUVs and high-trim pickups to be luxury purchases, LaNeve says.

Ford is well positioned to take advantage of that trend, LaNeve notes, with new offerings including the Expedition and Navigator just entering the market. The Expedition and Navigator are selling within 6-7 days, LaNeve says.

“They’re basically selling as soon as they hit the lots,” he says.

Meanwhile, demand for F-Series trucks, up 5.9% in December, shows little sign of abating. Deliveries of light-duty F-Series pickups were up 9.2% in 2017 to 834,445 units, while overall F-Series volume topped 896,764 for the year, giving the truck its 41st consecutive title as America’s best-selling truck and its 36th year as best-selling vehicle.

Sales of the Explorer midsize SUV rocketed up 35.7% in December, followed by the Edge (+11.8%), Expedition (+7.8%) and Escape (+5.7%).

Car sales are down, but the refreshed Mustang saw a healthy 13.4% increase in December while the Focus posted 13.9% growth.

Lincoln ended the year off just 0.5% despite a down year in the luxury segment, with the new Navigator off to a good start with a 35.1% increase on 1,444 deliveries compared with year-ago. Sales of the Continental sedan were off 31.6% in December against strong year-ago sales, but up 128.3% for the year on volume of 12,012 units.

Ford ended the year with 630,435 vehicles in inventory, a 68-days’ supply, compared with 646,829 a year ago (73 days). That total included 295,771 trucks (69 days) down from 304,425 (73 days) a year ago; 192,721 SUVs (60 days), up from 186,606 (66 days); and 141,943 cars (76 days), down from 155,798 (82 days).

[email protected] @bobgritzinger

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