DEARBORN, MI – Ford says inventory shortages that have plagued the Focus no longer are an issue, and the auto maker expects a strong showing by the C-car when November sales figures are released Dec. 1.
The Focus had a 79-days’ supply at the end of October, according to WardsAuto data. The auto maker has argued inventory problems, some stemming from supplier issues, were overblown. Yet the new Focus, launched earlier this year, has not performed as many expected.
Through October, Focus deliveries were up 9.3% to 149,701 units. While a respectable figure, results were far below key competitors such as the Chevrolet Cruze, with 201,819, and segment-leading Toyota Corolla, with 203,135.
The best year for Focus was 2000, when the model sold 286,166 units, WardsAuto data indicates.
Erich Merkle, Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst, says the auto maker is not concerned about the Focus’s ranking in the segment.
“We’re not going to do what we had to do in the past to get that leadership in the segment,” he tells journalists here. “If we have leadership in a segment, we’re happy to have that.”
Ford used to rely on incentives to move metal and increase share. That approach was scrapped when CEO Alan Mulally took the helm in 2006. Since then, Ford has focused on growing profitably and building to demand.
Merkle says Ford’s plan is working, pointing to higher transaction prices for the current Focus compared with the previous generation.
“Actual transaction prices on (the) Focus are up significantly,” he says, noting the increase is about $2,000. “Ultimately, that’s your business equation. We want profitable growth, not unprofitable growth.”
Today’s Focus customers differ from those of previous generations, he says. One-sixth of the buyers are under the age of 25 and more are residents of California, the largest auto market in the U.S. and one where Ford traditionally has struggled.
In October, Focus retail sales in the Golden State were nearly 100% higher than like-2010, Merkle says.
The Midwest generally has been the car’s strongest market. “The new Focus is spreading the geographic mix,” he says.