A Little Misdirection From Ford ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: A Little Misdirection From Ford

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Little Misdirection From Ford

You want to know the best way to boost your sales numbers in a particular 'type' of car?  Introduce a new model.  Which is why the following from Ford is misleading at best.

Despite a 11 percent decline in hybrid sales across the industry, Ford's year-to-date hybrid sales are up 67 percent over the same period last year. And the company is on track to set a new hybrid sales record for 2009.

"Hybrid customers increasingly are considering Ford," said George Pipas, Ford sales analyst. "And we are seeing a growing number of conquest sales, many of them from customers coming from import brands, mostly Toyota and Honda."

According to Pipas, the fuel economy message associated with hybrid vehicles resonates well with import customers.

"That, to me, is the significance of offering such high quality, fuel-efficient vehicles," he said.

"The hybrid technology is introducing us to a whole new community of customers who might have otherwise never visited a Ford showroom."

The newest additions to the Ford hybrid stable - the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids - are strengthening sales. Both vehicles deliver an EPA estimated 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, topping the Toyota Camry by 8 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway and making them the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans on the road.

And the Fusion Hybrid has received a number of important third-party endorsements. The entire Fusion lineup - including the hybrid model - won this year's prestigious Motor Trend Car of the Year® award. The Fusion Hybrid also was honored as one of Car and Driver magazine's "10 Best" cars for 2010.
I like the Ford Fusion Hybrid. I think it's good work from a company that's done good things over the past year despite all the depressing news surrounding the industry.

But talking about an 11% decline in a field, while touting how your numbers are up for that type is misleading because of the increase in models you sell. To make my point, the Escape/Mariner Hybrid sales are down 16.6% through November compared to last year. That's not because the Escape and Mariner are lacking in anything, but simply due to the overall industry decline over the past year.

But if you add in the new models (Fusion/Milan Hybrids), which doubled the number of models they sell, and Fords overall hybrid sales are up for the year. Ford is up for the year because they introduced two new models in March of this year. Honda is also up for the year (10%), because they introduced the Insight.  GM's reported hybrid sales are up by 59%, and Nissan is up by 5%.

Toyota is down for the year, but that's because their sales are so dominated by the Prius, which is down for the year (at least in the US... Japan is another story). Which is also why the hybrid market is down. Despite Ford and Nissan and Honda increasing their total overall numbers in sales, Toyota still sells 3 out of every 4 hybrids in the US. So, where Toyota goes, there goes the industry.

And I have a hunch that Toyota is only down because they've been diverting sales of the Prius (and other hybrids) to Japan.  The incentives and rebates being offered there are pushing hybrid sales to the top of the charts.   I have no way of proving that, but the number of days to sell are still down on the Prius.

Anyways, enough.  As I said, I like the Fusion and Milan Hybrids.  I hope they continue to do well, because Ford seems to have a good fix on what makes hybrids tick.  I just don't like misleading numbers being thrown out.

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