Re: February 2016: Ford Posts Best February U.S. Retail Sales in 11 Years
Behind the Numbers with Erich Merkle: February 2016 Sales
There was a lot of skepticism following January sales, which were down 3 percent. People worried that industry sales Ė and Ford sales in particular Ė were down. As I said in last monthís column, January is historically a weak month for vehicle sales, and despite what many people believe it doesnít set the pace for the rest of year.
February was fantastic. What a month!
Our overall U.S. sales were up 20 percent versus last year, and we had our best retail sales in 11 years. It was a great month, driven largely by hot consumer demand for Ford brand SUVs.
Ford SUVs had their best February sales result in company history, posting a 28 percent gain over last year. Weíre moving on Edge, with sales up 91 percent and 12,455 vehicles sold. Itís really good to have Edge back! Our best-selling SUV, the Escape, produced a 14 percent gain in February with 23,854 vehicles sold. And Explorer sales were up 18 percent, with more than 20,000 vehicles soldÖ in February no less. Letís face it. February is historically a better sales month than January for the industry, but that isnít saying much as seasonally January is the worst sales month of the year. A number above 20,000 for Explorer is big.
Whatís interesting to note about our Ford SUV sales is that consumers are gravitating toward the high-series models. For example, 35 percent of Edge sales are Titanium and Sport. And 38 percent of Explorer sales are for the Limited, Platinum and Sport models. This happens when products are well executed; people place a higher value on the vehicles.
Ford trucks saw a really solid increase in February with overall truck sales up 15 percent. Sales of our big daddy Ė the F-Series Ė were up 10 percent in February with almost 61,000 vehicles sold, making it F-Seriesí best February sales performance in 10 years. Our medium trucks Ė F-650 and F-750 Ė saw a 62 percent increase in sales in February with 1,147 vehicles sold. And Transit had an incredible month with sales up 70 percent, lifting our overall van sales to their best February performance since 1979. (I think some of us still had 8-track players in our cars at that time.)
You may not realize it, but Ford truck and van sales are a barometer for the U.S. economy. We are the largest seller of commercial vehicles in the country with our F-Series trucks and vans. Many of these vehicles might not be registered as commercial vehicles. In fact, a good number of them are registered as retail sales (because smaller businesses donít purchase enough vehicles for them to classify as commercial sales). But make no mistake. There are many small businesses across our country. Itís very encouraging to see strong van sales, strong F-Series sales, and of course great F-650/F-750 sales. Itís good for us, and itís another data point that says that businesses continue to spend.
As you know, the car side of the business has been struggling along with the rest of the car industry as more people move away from cars and into SUVs. However, the exception has been the Fusion. Itís been swimming upstream for a while and February was no different, as Fusion sales were up 12 percent compared to the same time last year, in a very tough mid-size sedan segment.
As Iíve said before, itís important to watch the first six months of the year because we are set up to have a good first half. While it is still early, February played out very well for us. The SUV segment is so hot right now, and we have some of the best offerings in the marketplace. We need to keep the heat on and deliver on the new Escape and Fusion coming up in the next few months.
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