Most automakers posting May sales results enjoyed massive upticks compared to their year-ago results — except Ford Motor Co.
Ford saw sales rise just 4.1% as inventories on its highly profitable trucks were very low, while Hyundai, Honda and others revealed triple-digit jumps for some vehicles and double-digit overall increases. No automaker has seemingly been hurt by the ongoing semiconductor shortage like Ford.
In fact, its retail sales results — excluding its fleet sales — were down 11.2% in May, a reflection of just how much Ford dealers are struggling to meet demand for the brand’s F-Series pickups. To be fair, CEO Jim Farley has repeatedly warned the second quarter would be the company’s worst due to the chip issue.
“Ford sales were up 4.1% on tight inventories, while year-to-date sales increased 11.3 percent,” said Andrew Frick, vice president, Ford Sales U.S. and Canada, in a statement. “Ford and its dealers are working harder than ever to match the right mix of inventory to best meet the needs of our customers at the local level.
“We have been receiving a massive number of reservations for our all-electric F-150 Lightning over the last two weeks — totaling over 70,000 trucks. Ford brand SUVs had their best May sales in 18 years, while Lincoln SUVs posted a new May record.”
SUVs carrying the company
The travails of truck inventories are well known. Fortunately, the company’s SUVs picked up the sales slack in May showing a 48.6% increase in total sales compared to last May and 27.9% on the retail level — again hurt by the chip problem.
Despite that difference, it was the company’s best May sales result for SUVs at the retail level since 2003. Ford brand SUVs were up 51.8% over a year ago on new product introductions of Bronco Sport and Mustang Mach-E, along with the continued momentum of Escape, Explorer and Expedition.
The Bronco Sport and Escape performed well in the highly competitive small SUV segment, officials noted. Ford’s May retail share is up almost 4 full percentage points in the small SUV segment, with sales of both Bronco Sport and Escape expanding their sales within two very different customer groups. Escape sales were up 51.4%, while the majority of Bronco Sport customers are coming from outside the Ford brand.
Lincoln SUVs did the Ford offerings one better, producing a record result last month. Lincoln SUV sales were up across the entire lineup in May with a total of 7,871 SUVs sold – up 24.3 percent. Perhaps just as impressively, the entire brand was up 5% and is up 15.3% for the year thus far. Those numbers are impacted by the massive drop in MKZ and Continental sales, which are no longer produced and dealers are trying to clear out remaining inventory.
EVs going crazy
A Mustang Mach-E sits for just 10 days once it gets to a dealer and many are selling upon arrival. Mach-E sales totaled 1,945 in May, and 10,510 year-to-date.
The Mustang Mach-E is performing so well, the company is building more Mach-E’s than the original gas-powered pony car, according to Bloomberg. Ford’s plant in Mexico has produced 27,816 electric Mustang Mach-E models in 2021 while the Flat Rock, Michigan facility building the Mustang has churned out 26,089 vehicles, according to production data the automaker released Thursday.
Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst, told Bloomberg that Mustang production in Flat Rock has been hampered by the chip shortage. However, Farley told a group of journalists after the introduction of the F-150 Lightning the Mach-E is outperforming expectations and its completely sold out of its initial production run.
Strong Mach-E sales doesn’t mean that the Mustang has suffered. The all-new Mustang Mach 1 helped lift performance Mustang sales to more than 13% of retail sales, compared to 10% last year, the news agency noted.
Overall, Ford electrified vehicle sales skyrocketed 184% last month, some of which was driven by the aforementioned Mach-E, but it wasn’t alone, officials noted. F-150 PowerBoost totaled 2,852 for the month, Escape electrified sales totaled 3,617 – up 125% over last year. Explorer Hybrid sales also had a big increase of 132% compared with a year ago on sales of 1,156 SUVs. The future looks bright on that front as well. The previously mentioned F-150 Lightning secured more than 70,000 deposits since its debut about two weeks ago.