Even popular Ford F series hit hard amid plummeting industry sales

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Phoebe Wall Howard, USA TODAY
Published 10:33 a.m. ET July 4, 2020

If anything in life is predictable, it’s steady sales of the Ford F-150.

The popular pickup saves the day — every quarter, every year — for Ford Motor Co.

America loves its trucks. And, global pandemic or not, trucks sell. 

The F-Series allowed Ford to reflect the smallest second quarter sales drop of the Detroit Three.

Ford reported a 33.3% drop in second quarter sales compared to 2019, from 650,336 vehicles to 433,869, the company reported Thursday. And year-to-date sales dropped 24.1% to 903,357 vehicles.

The 2020 Ford F-series Super Duty pickup with Tremor Off-Road package. (Photo: Ford Motor)

“Coronavirus concerns clearly affected Q2,” Ford said in a statement.

Meanwhile, General Motors reported a 34% drop in sales to 492,489 vehicles sold during April, May and June. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles saw a 39% decline to 367,086 vehicles sold, in second quarter results reported Wednesday.

GM had a bright spot with the Chevy Blazer. And FCA had Jeep Gladiator.

NUThis April, May and June period has been “unprecedented and crazy” and “challenging,”  Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of marketing, sales and service, said.

Even trucks took a hit this time.

The F-Series saw a 22.7% drop in second quarter sales, from 233,787 to 180,825, compared to 2019. When comparing compared year-to-date sales over the previous year, Ford F-Series dropped 18.1% to 367,387 vehicles.

By comparison, GM in the second quarter sold 122,432 Silverado pickups and FCA sold 117,448 Ram pickups.

The highly profitable F-Series franchise provides the core revenue stream for Ford, which has led the segment for decades. F-150 prices can start at $28,745 and exceed $75,000 with, as Ford executives like to say, “all the bells and whistles.” The average cost of the F-Series is $51,585.

“As America’s truck leader, retail F-Series pickup sales were off only 2%,” Ford said. “With more than 33% of the retail full-size segment, F-Series expands its lead as America’s bestselling pickup.”

Toward the second part of the sales period, Ford already began to see an uptick in government and commercial sales of the F-Series, including the Police Interceptor, LaNeve said. While sales overall were down, he noted that Ford grew its hold on the pickup segment. 

The 2021 F-150 was revealed June 25 and is expected to be at dealerships later this year.

“Ford’s sales performance was a bit better than we had anticipated for June,” Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader said. “We forecasted Ford would be down 34%; it was down 28%, on par with many other manufacturers. Our first-half forecast was spot on at down 24%.”

Much of Ford’s decline is due to the sell-down of products — mostly cars — that it is eliminating and significantly lower fleet sales for vehicles like trucks and vans, she explained. “On the plus side of Ford’s sales performance this year, the Ford Explorer is finally gaining traction, with sales up 15% in June.”

While the Ranger is a “big bright spot,”  the Ford Escape — redesigned only a year or so ago — is underperforming, especially in comparison to segment leaders Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, Krebs said.

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