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As analysts expected, due to Labor Day sales being pulled from September into August, U.S. auto sales fell 4% last month – ending a 27-month streak of increases. September's seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate of 15.3 million vehicles was below August's rate of 16.1 million and was the lowest since April. While it was a down month for most major automakers Ford (NYSE: F ) managed to buck the trend with a 6% sales increase. Let's take a look at which models enabled Ford to buck the trend last month.
Bucking the trend
Of course you can't discuss Ford's sales and not start off with its single most important and profitable product, the F-Series. Sales of the F-Series were up 10% for September while General Motors (NYSE: GM ) saw a 11% decline in its Chevy Silverado. Ford's management considers any month when F-Series sales exceed 50,000 a very solid month. September marks the fifth straight month above 60,000 and twice monthly sales topped 70,000 – an impressive feat.
The F-Series will keep the profits rolling in and contribute to a likely great third quarter, which is reported next week, but Ford's success in its car segment shouldn't be ignored.
"Our balanced portfolio is paying dividends," Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said during the September sales call. "We're getting the uplift from the truck business, which is recovering, but we're getting solid recovery on the car side also."
Ford's car segment sales are up 14% compared to last year led by strong sales of the Fusion and Focus. Fusion sales came in at 19,972, a 62% increase over last year. While the 62% increase in sales looks stunning, it has to be noted that the comparable sales from last year were much lower due to the new model's inventory just arriving. You can expect comparable sales percentages to be extremely high again next month as well.
Keep in mind that sales of the Fusion would be better if Ford had the production capacity available sooner. Ford just invested $555 million into its Flat Rock Assembly plant to bring additional production of the Fusion online; a much needed investment as plants producing the Fusion were rumored to be running over 100% capacity earlier this year. The additional 1,400 workers will help increase production capacity of the Fusion by more than 30% to 350,000 units annually.
Because of Ford's more balanced vehicle sales it's increasing its market share during a month where the overall industry declined – a feat not common for domestic automakers. Consider that the F-Series continues to lead all vehicles in U.S. sales and that the Fusion and Escape are on pace to break 300,000 in sales this year; something only the F-Series has accomplished for Ford in the last 9 years. As Ford continues to redesign popular vehicles in the hottest segments, monthly sales and market share gains like this could easily become a regular feat for the folks at the Blue Oval.
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