Ford Predicts Industry-Wide, Domestic SAAR of 12 Million Vehicles this Month

Ford Motor Company predicts domestic, industry-wide sales to reach a seasonally adjusted annual rate of around 12 million vehicles this month, in part because Christmas and New Year’s fall on the last two Saturdays of the month.  The last week of the month is typically when automakers see the bulk of their December sales.

Ford’s group vice president of global marketing, sales and service Jim Farley said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some headwinds on the traditional SAAR just because people will be busy two Saturdays, when in the last several years they’ve been shopping.” He expects to see sales rebound during the first week of January and said that transaction prices have been higher, on average, due to “robust” consumer demand for higher-priced features and trim levels.

To make the point, Farley said that one of best-selling Fiesta sub-compact models comes with optional heated leather seats. He said, “That is really surprising to us because that’s a feature that’s not even available” on most vehicles in the subcompact segment.

Farley said, “As we execute the product better and we give [consumers] more choice, we’re clearly seeing them move up in range, and that’s not just with the Fiesta subcompact, but we’re seeing it all the way up through the lineup, including F-series.”

He also credited growth in the used car market and increased demand for full-sized trucks for dealer’s increased profitability during the year. “We’ve seen a huge growth in the used-car departments,” he said. “That’s really helped their profitability, and so has our share growth.”

Ford’s president of the Americas, Mark Fields, said the automaker’s domestic market share has increased 2.2 points over the past year to 16.4 percent. He said, “It’s been a really strong year for the F series. When we close the books on this year, we will be the best-selling truck for 34 straight years.”

Fields said the 2011 Fiesta has increased the automaker’s share among younger drivers, aged 18 to 25, by 1.5 points.

Farley said the new MyFord Touch technology suffered from technical problems when it was launched earlier this fall.  Now that the problems have all been resolved, he said the only remaining challenge is the longer delivery times needed to educate dealers and consumers on how to operate the system.

The MyFord Touch system allows drivers to control their phone, interior climate and GPS navigation and entertainment systems using either their vehicle’s 8-inch touch screen or voice commands. MyFord Touch is currently available on the Lincoln MKX crossover and Ford Edge.

He said, “The biggest issue we’ve had really has been the delivery time because it’s a different system using your voice or the five-position system using your finger, and frankly it’s really required us to do a lot more dealer education.”

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