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Ford Sees Low-14 Million US Sales Rate as Confidence Ebbs

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 07:22 PM

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, sees June industry sales in its home market trailing the pace set in the first four months of the year, the company’s executive who oversees North America said Tuesday.

U.S. vehicle sales, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks, are on pace for a low-14 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate in June, “consistent with May,” Mark Fields, president of the Americas, told reporters in Dearborn, Michigan. Excluding medium- and heavy-duty deliveries usually lowers the rate by about 200,000 to 300,000 units.

Ford’s forecast is in line with last month’s 13.8 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate for light-vehicle sales, the first month this year that the industry pace was below 14 million, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Confidence among U.S. consumers dropped for a fourth-straight month to the lowest since January, the Conference Board’s index showed Tuesday.

“We’ve seen consumer confidence come off its highs,” Fields said. “We’ll continue to monitor the marketplace and take decisive action no matter where the economy goes.”

The Conference Board, a private research group based in New York, said today that its confidence index fell to 62 for June. That trailed the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, which called for a reading of 63.

Ford is having “solid” sales this month, with the introduction of the redesigned Escape sport-utility vehicle exceeding the automaker’s expectations, Fields said. The SUV, which Ford began selling last month, stays on dealer lots an average of just 4.5 days, Fields said.

‘Fastest Start’

“It’s the fastest start I can remember,” Fields said. “We’re getting a lot of new customers who are really struck by the design.”

The 2013 Escape’s rounded “cute ute” design is more wagon-like and contrasts with the squared-off, truck-oriented style of its predecessor. Ford is going after buyers of the Honda Motor Co.’s CR-V, which also has a more fluid design.

U.S. light-vehicle sales ran at a 14.5 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate through the first four months of the year, data provider Kelley Blue Book said today in a statement. The Irvine, California-based researcher estimated an industry sales pace of 13.9 million for June.

Ford’s light-vehicle deliveries through May rose 6.5 percent to 933,179 cars and light trucks, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Autodata.

Ford will triple its electrified vehicle production capacity by 2013 and plans for 10 percent to 25 percent of its global sales to be hybrids, plug-in hybrids or fully electric vehicles by 2020, the company said Tuesday in a statement.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2012 07:22 PM
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