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Ford Sales Up 43.4% - So?

For the month of February Ford Motor Company’s sales were up 43.4% over February 2009.  Not bad, but wait.  Did you realize that Ford’s sales were down 48.4% in February 2009 compared to February 2008?  Even with the huge increase this year, Ford’s sales are still 26% behind 2008 for the month of February.  It’s a real good news/bad news scenario—sales are up this year, but not enough to gain back the ground that was lost in 2009.  In February 2010 Ford sold 140,690 new vehicles, in February 2008 Ford sold 190,190.


In the month of February 2010 passenger car sales came in 15.1% over what they were in February 2009, and light-truck sales were up 11.2%.  Of course, in 2009 passenger car sales were down 31.3% compared to 2008 and light truck sales were down 35.9%.

The year-to-date numbers aren’t much different.  When you combine January and February sales Ford is up 34.5% over 2009.  But when you compare the combined two months to 2008 Ford is down 25.7%.

Overall year-to-date new-vehicle sales are up 9.9% compared to 2009, but 2009 was down 33.4% compared to 2008.  New-vehicle sales in the US for January and February 2010 totaled 1.476 million units, where as in 2008 the total came to 2.216 million units.

Don’t misunderstand, it is great that so far this year new-vehicle sales are up 9.9% over 2009.  You just have to keep in mind that new-vehicle sales in 2009 were so horrible that if they weren’t up this year we would really be in trouble.

The automotive performance parts and accessories industry has long targeted domestic vehicles as their canvas for customization.  So far in 2010, Chrysler, GM and Ford are accounting for a little more than half the new vehicles sold in the US and are running 40.5% behind 2008.  For the same period, Asian nameplates are running 28.0% behind 2008, and European nameplates are down 8.5%.


There are some makes that are successfully swimming upstream.  For instance, at the end of two months in 2010 Hyundai is up 15.4% over 2008.  This year they have sold 110,682 new vehicles in the US compared to 95,885 in 2008.  Granted that is less than half the number of units that Ford sold, but they are gaining ground fast.  Another is Volkswagen with year-to-date sales that are 8.8% ahead of 2008.

Maybe, it’s time to start looking at the possibility of producing product for the “import” brands.  Or maybe it’s time to follow their lead.  Both Hyundai and Volkswagen appear to be making concerted efforts to move up-scale.  They are trying to leave the marketplaces that are driven exclusively by price and trying to enter markets where competition is based on features and brand image.

Another interesting story in the new-vehicle sales numbers centers on light trucks.  In February 2010, light-truck sales were up 11.2% over last year, but down 35.9% compared to 2008.  Year-to-date light-truck sales in the US are up 5.4% over last year, while being down 36.0% against 2008.  Within the makes the numbers aren’t near as consistent--GM is down 45.6%, Chrysler is down 44.7%, and Ford is down 32.3%. 

At the same time light trucks are moving back toward their position of dominance.  In 2004 light trucks reached their peak accounting for 54.6% of all new vehicles sold in the US.  By 2008 the trend had reversed itself and light trucks represented 47.0%.  So far this year, light-truck sales are accounting for 48.7% of the new vehicles sold in the US, and that’s after gaining 0.4% in 2009.

The message here is, don’t always take statistics at face value.  You need to ask about the context, and have a sense of how the trends got to where they are.  If we only consider the fact that Ford’s sales are up 43.4% in February of this year, we could come to some very erroneous conclusions.

Source: Fast Lane Research