- U.S. auto sales for Ford were down 15.6% in 2020 compared with a year earlier.
- The decline was due to the coronavirus pandemic, a drop decline in commercial fleet sales and tight inventories of its F-150 pickup trucks.
- Ford's 2020 sales decline is expected to be in line with the overall U.S. automotive industry.
Sales of the popular full-size pickup tumbled by about 33% in the fourth quarter from the same time last year, the automaker reported Wednesday. The lower sales were attributed to lingering effects from factory shutdowns last spring due to Covid-19 as well as a changeover in production of the facilities to produce the redesigned F-150.
"We're optimizing the production at both plants right now and it's a matter of getting more F-150s out to our dealer lots," Erich Merkle, Ford's head of U.S. sales analysis, told CNBC. He said inventories of the F-150 were 141,000 units to end last year, down from 267,000 a year earlier.
Ford's 2020 sales decline is expected to be in line with the overall U.S. automotive industry, which is projected to be off by about 15% to 14.5 million vehicles. That would be the lowest domestic sales since 2012. It also ends an unprecedented five-year streak of sales topping 17 million units.
Ford's truck sales slid 11.3% in 2020, while SUVs were off by 9.7% year over year. Sales of passenger cars, which Ford is discontinuing, aside from key models such as the Mustang, plummeted 44.7% compared with 2019.
Andrew Frick, Ford vice president of U.S. and Canada sales, believes the company is well positioned this year from a product standpoint as it transitions away from passenger cars.
"Fourth quarter represented an inflection point at Ford in our transition from cars to a much greater focus on iconic trucks and SUVs to better serve our customers," he said in a release. "We are well positioned to see the benefits of our focused efforts throughout 2021."
Correction: Ford reported F-150 pickup truck sales on Wednesday. An earlier version misstated the day.