Ford Posts First Annual Market Share Gain Since 1995

Company saw car sales up 42%, trucks up 18%, crossovers up 51%, and larger sport utility vehicles up 33%

Ford Motor Co. posted its first full-year US market share gain since 1995 even as industry sales fell to levels not seen in nearly 30 years, the automaker said on Jan.5.Ford's market share rose 1.1 points to 15.5% in 2009 and 2.4 points to 17.3% in December, according to Autodata.

December marked the 14th time in 15 months that the second largest U.S. automaker increased its retail share but it has not yet overtaken Toyota for the number two spot in US sales.

"It was a challenging and very volatile year," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president for U.S. marketing sales and service. "We had to deal with a near-depression economy, there were bankruptcies, bailouts, discontinued brands, distressed pricing, a government stimulus program... that resulted in huge shifts in demand from one month to the next."

Czubay attributed Ford's success to the "processes and disciplines" established with a restructuring plan which got underway in 2005.

"For 2010, I'm leaving my seatbelt on, because I think that volatility is still an element of the new norm," Czubay said.

General Motors remains solidly in the top spot despite seeing its share shrink 4.4 points in December to 20.1% and 2.4 points to 19.8% in 2009.

Ford's December sales rose 33% to 184,655 vehicles from 139,067 a year earlier. Total sales for 2009 were down 15.4% to 1.7 million vehicles.

Overall industry sales were up 15.1% in December and down 21.2% in 2009, according to Autodata.

Ford expects global vehicle sales to resume growth this year after two consecutive years of decline. It estimates that global vehicle sales will fall to 64 million units in 2009, down about 10.5% from the 2007 peak of 71.5 million. It offered a preliminary prediction that global sales will rise to between 65 and 75 million units and that US sales will range from 11.5 to 12.5 million units.

"We look forward to 2010 with optimism and we begin the year with more forward momentum than ever," Czubay said, promising a sharp focus on developing new products and vowing that "we will not count on momentum to carry the Ford day."

Sales at Ford's three key brands -- Ford, Lincoln and Mercury -- were up 33.5% at 179,017 in December and down 15.4% in 2009 at 1.6 million.

Sales at Volvo -- which Ford is in the midst of selling to China's Geely -- were up 13.8% in December at 5,638 and down 16% in 2009 at 61,435.

Ford said it had posted higher sales in every product category and for every brand in December, with car sales up 42%, trucks up 18%, crossovers up 51%, and larger sport utility vehicles up 33%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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