Ford sales rise 22%, paced by Fusion's 65% gain
January marked Ford's biggest monthly gain since sales rose 40 percent in September 2010.
DETROIT -- The Ford Fusion is finally beginning to live up to Ford Motor Co.'s expectations. Sales of the swoopy redesigned mid-sized sedan with the Aston Martin-inspired looks soared 65 percent in January to 22,399 units, the company said today.
The Fusion's strong January helped push the automaker to a 22 percent January sales increase, to 165,863. It was Ford's biggest monthly gain since sales rose 40 percent in September 2010.
Regarding the Fusion, Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. sales, marketing and service, told reporters and analysts on a conference call today: "Dealers say we have the appropriate amount of inventory now. Demand was very strong. We anticipate it will continue at this pace."
Other mainstays in the Ford lineup also did well. Sales of the Ford F series, the company's top seller, jumped 22 percent, and those of its No. 3 seller, the Ford Escape crossover, climbed 16 percent.
"Much hand-wringing has taken place over multiple and early recalls of the Ford Escape and Ford Fusion, but that doesn't appear to matter to consumers who bought those models in big numbers," said Michelle Krebs, analyst for Edmunds.com. "It suggests that Ford has built up a healthy amount of goodwill in the marketplace, causing consumers to overlook those stumbles."
Czubay said this was the strongest January for Ford small-car sales since 2000. Ford counts the Fiesta, up 22 percent, Focus, up 12 percent, and newly launched C-Max crossover as small cars.
Several vehicles benefited from some hefty incentives. Ford has been offering a "3 Payments Are On Us Cash" spiff on several vehicles -- including the Ford Focus, Escape, Explorer and Taurus -- in most regions. The offers expire Monday, Feb. 4.
Ford is counting on the Fusion, Escape and F series to help it take back market share in the United States after several years of stagnation or decline.
The automaker's market share fell to 15.5 percent in 2012 from 16.8 percent in 2011, while Ford brand's share fell to 14.9 percent from 16.1 percent.
Production bottlenecks crimped sales in 2012. Ford brought 400,000 additional units of production on line last year and will gain the full benefit of that in 2013.
Lincoln sales dropped 18 percent in January, to 4,191, largely because of the lack of availability of 2013 MKZ sedans.
MKZ sales dropped 73 percent as dealers sold down their inventory of 2012 models and didn't have 2013s to replace them.
Ford has added quality inspections to speed delivery of the car to dealers. Czubay said today that MKZ stocks should be at normal levels by early April.
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