U.S. auto sales fell this year amidst a major pandemic. But wait until next year, says Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president-U.S. marketing, sales and service.
“We know 2021 is going to be a significant year for our North American business and our dealers,” he tells 8,000 attendees of an annual dealer meeting held online. “We are going to grow in 2021. This is the year we have been building toward.”
Ford’s 3,100 Ford and luxury-brand Lincoln dealers in the U.S. sold about 2.4 million vehicles in 2019, with total industry auto deliveries topping 17 million units for the fifth straight year.
In contrast, U.S. vehicle sales predictions for this year range from about 13.4 million to an optimistic 14 million, a drop resulting largely from COVID-19’s economic impact.
“For the rest of our lives, we can look back on 2020 and know that no matter what got thrown at us, we worked together to overcome it and we succeeded – together,” LaNeve (below, left) says. “Next year also will challenge us, but seriously, after this year I’m confident there is nothing we can’t do.”
Ford is betting heavily on new products to boost 2021 sales: the Bronco, Bronco Sport, Mustang Mach-E and “a not-yet-named vehicle that will fill a whitespace in the market,” the company says.
By this time next year, Ford expects the four new nameplates will outsell its entire previous sedan portfolio that has been decimated by the market swing from cars to utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
Deliveries of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E begin next month, with the First Edition sold out. Starting at $43,895, the Mach-E will reach a whole new set of customers and help usher in the electrification era, the company says.
The redone F-150 also is shipping soon. The fullsize pickup has long been the leader in its segment. Ford says the new F-150’s pre-launch numbers are encouraging: Millions of people tuned in to the reveal and more than half a million visited the launch website in the first week alone.
The Bronco Sport utility vehicle currently is making its way to dealerships. The revived nameplate’s two- and four-door Bronco models – the more serious off-roaders – arrive next summer. Ford boasts of more than 190,000 reservations for the pair.
For franchised dealers, used-vehicle sales have been hot lately.
Accordingly, Ford plans to launch a used-vehicle marketplace platform and brand (Ford Blue Advantage). The aim is to maximize the use of digital technology and the scale of its dealership network for certified pre-owned vehicle sales.
Many industry people propose culling trim levels and accessory packages to uncomplicate vehicle production and ordering. The less-is-best advocates include Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s automotive division and a former Fiat Chrysler executive in charge of manufacturing quality control.
“We build a lot of unicorns in the U.S., and I’m not sure why or whether we should,” he said previously. “Is it worth spending the money?”
Ford continues to increase its customization options but says it will simplify the process by relying more on a system centered on dealer-installed options.
Ford says it will offer 149 accessory products for the Bronco Sport’s upcoming launch, and more than 200 when Bronco two- and four-door models make the scene.
The automaker says it is preparing to launch dealer-installed options for all of its ’21 models.
“As plant complexity decreases, these options give dealers the opportunity to add accessories to vehicles they order for inventory,” the company says. “Options will appear on the window sticker, and the accessories will be delivered to the dealer for installation on location.”