Ford shortages may have cost it sales
May 3, 2011
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s April sales might have been higher if dealers had had more inventory, Ford executives said today.
The automaker's sales rose 13 percent in April from a year earlier to 189,284 units. Ford had double-digit sales gains for cars, pickups and SUVs and crossovers.
"We exceeded our sales plan for the month," said George Pipas, Ford's top sales analyst. But he added: "Our dealers probably could have sold more if they had had more of certain product lines."
The rapid run-up in gasoline prices strained the supply of small cars across the industry, including at Ford, Pipas said. At the beginning of April, the industry's days supply for small cars was in the 20s, he said.
Ford's 2012 redesigned Focus compact is in high demand and tight supply. Pipas said part of the problem is that last month Ford was still ramping up Focus production. Ford builds the car at its Michigan Assembly Plant outside Detroit.
Selling 'off the convoy truck'
"This is really the first month of the Focus and, heck, dealers were telling us they were selling them off the convoy truck," said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service during a sales call with analysts and media.
"We're restocking as fast as we can," Czubay said.
Ford started April with about 500 of the 2012 Focus cars on the ground. Pipas said another 4,000 were in transit at that time. Altogether, Pipas said, Ford sold 17,000 Focus units in April, of which 12,000 were the 2012 model and the remainder leftover 2011s.
Ford ended the month with 2,500 units of the 2011 Focus in stock, he said.
Even though Ford plans to provide more 2012 Focus cars to its dealers in May, "I'm sure the inventory will be lean, though, because there is so much demand," Pipas said. "We're going to build every small car that our assembly and our component system can deliver. I don't think we'll take any downtime in that segment."
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