2021 Ford F-150 Lariat
U.S. auto sales for Ford Motor declined 15.6% last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a drop in merchant fleet sales, and tight inventory of its F-150 pickups.
Sales of the popular full-size pickup were down around 33% in the fourth quarter from the year-ago period, the automaker reported on Wednesday. The decline in sales was due to the ongoing effects of factory shutdowns last spring due to Covid-19 as well as a change in production of the systems for manufacturing the newly designed F-150.
“We are currently optimizing production in both plants and the aim is to bring more F-150 into our dealer lots,” said Erich Merkle, head of US sales analysis at Ford, to CNBC. He said inventory of the F-150 was 141,000 units last year, compared to 267,000 last year.
Ford’s 2020 sales decline is expected to be in line with the overall U.S. auto industry, which is expected to decline by about 15% to 14.5 million vehicles. This would be the lowest domestic sales since 2012. This also ends an unprecedented five-year sales streak of over 17 million units.
Ford’s truck sales were down 11.3% in 2020, while SUVs were down 9.7% year over year. Passenger car sales, which Ford is discontinuing aside from key models like the Mustang, were down 44.7% compared to 2019.
Andrew Frick, Ford vice president of sales in the US and Canada, believes the company is well positioned this year from a product standpoint as it moves away from passenger cars.
“The fourth quarter marked a turning point for Ford in our transition from cars to a much stronger focus on iconic trucks and SUVs to better serve our customers,” he said in a press release. “We are well positioned to see the benefits of our focused efforts throughout 2021.”
Correction: Ford reported sales of F-150 pickups on Wednesday. In an earlier version, the day was incorrectly specified.