April 1, 2009.
Ford Sales Analyst George Pipas reports Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales being down 41 percent versus a year ago. However, Ford's retail share climbed in March, and was 30 percent higher than February of this year.
"Retail sales to individual customers it was a different story as our retail share for the month was the highest we've seen in over two years."
Pipas attributes this increase to the introduction of new product, which has paid off 5 of the last 6 months for Ford.
"And in this six-month period we've increased our retail share five of the six months, Ford's new F150, the Lincoln MKS, and the Ford Flex and now we're starting to ship and deliver the first of the 2010 mid-size sedans, specifically we're talking about the Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid."
Another factor that should help show room traffic and future sales is the Ford Advantage plan unveiled earlier this week. The plan offers up to 12-months of car payments if the customer losses employment, they will not lose their transportation.
"There's another important thing the Ford Advantage plan does and that is, it allows us to tell the Ford story, not only Ford, but its dealers, because if people are intrigued by the proposition that we've got their back in the event they lose their employment then we'll be able to tell them about the quality improvements that have been reported by third parties, fuel economy improvements of our new products and how we're doing in the market share, reinforce all the great things that have happened in the last six-months, but it's harder to do that if they don't come and see a Ford or Lincoln-Mercury Dealer."
Production in the first quarter of 2009 have been trimmed further then planned, based on the unstable economy and customer demand.
"Our production in the first quarter is at a level of 349,000 units previously we gave guidance at 375,000 units, this will put us in good position if the economy begins to pickup steam, recover, get its feet on the ground in the second half of the year."
Pipas says while there are glimmers of hope on the horizon, Ford would like to see more months like that, before they commit to higher levels of production.
"Right now we're doing what we have been doing over the last 18 months and that is making sure that our production is lined up with demand."
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