Ford Motor Company expects to finish the year as the best-selling auto brand in the U.S., but will it?
Ford is a popular brand to be sure, but in terms of sales volume, it can't compete with larger companies like Toyota and General Motors -- at least not on a global scale. But if we just focus on the U.S., the picture is a bit different. How is Ford outshining its competitors?
- For starters, Ford is an American company and benefits from the fact that many Americans prefer to buy home-grown brands. (Though there are exceptions, and there's plenty of debate about what makes an "American" company these days.) Of course, Chrysler and General Motors are American companies, too, but...
- Ford still benefits from the goodwill it earned during the auto industry fiasco of the Great Recession. Americans were sharply divided in their feelings about Chrysler and GM receiving federal bailout dollars, but folks on both sides of the debate appreciated Ford, which took no bailout dough. That gave a boost to the Ford brand, which the company has been riding ever since.
- For over three decades, Ford has produced the most popular pickup truck line in America, the F-Series. That would be important in any year, but it was especially important in 2013, as the construction and housing markets roared back to life. However...
- Unlike some brands we could name, Ford isn't dependent on any one segment for its sales. SUVs like the Explorer remain hugely popular with U.S. consumers, as do cars like the iconic Mustang.
- And although all those factors might lead Ford to get a bit cocky, the company hasn't rested on its laurels. Not only has it worked to streamline production and control costs (adieu, Mercury!), it's also produced a number of new and dramatically redesigned automobiles that have captured the country's attention -- cars like the Fiesta, the Focus, the Fusion, and the Escape. (Though to be fair, some of those models have seen an unusually high number of recalls.)
To date, Ford says that U.S. retail sales are running 15 percent above last year, and it expects to finish 2013 with 2.4 million vehicles sold from sea to shining sea. At the end of November, Ford had stretched its lead over the second-best-selling brand in the U.S., Toyota, by 396,041 units.
Moreover, Ford has shattered a number of records this year. It's sold more passenger vehicles in the U.S. (600,000) than it has since 2000, its utility vehicles haven't sold this well since 2004, and it reached an all-time high in hybrid sales (80,000).
Will Ford really come out on top in 2013? And will it be able to maintain its momentum in 2014? Stay tuned...