How Important Are Trucks to Ford?

In a word: Very

By Gary S. Vasilash

Microchip shortages notwithstanding, despite dealer lots with fewer vehicles on them, Ford reported a sales increase for the month of November of 5.9% compared with November 2020.

In terms of what people bought in November, the F-Series, which will be the best-selling vehicle for its 45th consecutive year, is absolutely essential to the total U.S. sales.

(Image: Ford)

The company sold a total 158,793 vehicles (Ford and Lincoln brands).

It sold 3,767 cars. 72,795 SUVs. And 82,231 trucks.

Of the trucks, F-Series accounts for 60,418 units.

All of Lincoln had sales in November of 6,405.

All of Ford SUVs consisted of 66,390.

So there’s F-Series, with nearly 10x the sales of Lincoln and almost equal to the sales of the EcoSport, Bronco Sport, Escape, Bronco, Mustang Mach-E, Edge, Flex, Explorer, and Expedition combined.

The nameplate that is second to the F-Series in sales for November is the Explorer.

There were 18,268 Explorers sold.

Yes, the F-Series makes that much of a difference.

Without it the total November sales would have been 98,375.

Not nothing.

But not as impressive as it is.

All About Jeep

Jim Morrison talks about the venerable brand on this “Autoline After Hours”

The numbers are notable.

Through the first three quarters of 2021 Jeep sold 604,671 vehicles in the U.S.

That makes it, by far, the most important brand within the Stellantis U.S. group.

While everyone knows that pickup trucks are driving the market in a big way, Jeep handily outsold Ram brand, which had sales of 495,410 units.

Of course, in terms of product offerings Ram pretty much has the Ram pickup variants, which accounted for 434,772 of the sales. The ProMaster Van and the ProMaster City account for the rest.

Jeep vp Jim Morrison (Image: Jeep)

In the case of Jeep, there are the Wrangler (164,710) and the Grand Cherokee (189,727). Having two popular models is certainly beneficial.

And as for the other brands—Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and Alfa Romeo—realize that all in for the first three quarters the entire group had sales of 1,365,881.

Jeep and Ram combined account for 1,100,081 units, so you can figure how the others did.

Jim Morrison is vice president, Jeep Brand North America. On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” he talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Mike Austin of Hemmings and me about where the brand is and where it is going.

The importance of having some solid nameplates is something that they’re taking into account which is leading to an expansion of offerings.

For example, the fifth generation Grand Cherokee is now also available as the 4xe (plug-in hybrid) and Grand Cherokee L (a three-row vehicle).

In addition, this year Jeep has also launched the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. The Grand Wagoneer starts at $86,995. It is not only the most sumptuous Jeep, but what is important to note is that it is still a Jeep: the engineers didn’t forget capability when developing the vehicle.

Morrison talks about those vehicles, as well as about the influx of competition that Jeep is now facing, such as with the Ford Bronco and the GMC HUMMER.

He thinks that what is going to happen is that the entire segment is going to grow as people begin to think more and more about vacations that put them behind the wheel of a vehicle and not strapped into a seat on an airplane, and that an increasing number of those vacation trips will be out in the wilds, a place where Jeeps excel.

Morrison also thinks that Jeep will maintain its share of the market, not lose it to the other companies.

He also talks about whether there could be fully battery electric Jeeps, and while he is cautious about talking future product, he does make an interesting statement that encompasses Jeep:

“We don’t care what puts power to the ground. We just want to do it better than anyone else.”

That’s a Jeep thing.

You can see the show here.

About the British Car Build in July

Things are not going as planned. . .

By Gary S. Vasilash

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the British automotive trade association, this past July the UK vehicle production number was 53,438.

In July 2020—when the pandemic was still shockingly smacking every economy everywhere—the number of vehicles produced was 85,696.

Which means that production has declined 37.6%.

Now maybe it was just something to do with the month of July.

SMMT points to the shortage of chips. The contact tracing system that is in place in the UK (leading to many people getting alerts on their phones about contact, something called the “pingdemic”), and some companies just shutting down for a break to accommodate supply change changes.

The good news in all of this is that the production numbers year-to-date in 2021 are 18.3% higher than they were in 2020.

That said, it is clear that there are still challenges being faced in the UK auto industry, which, according to the SMMT, accounts for 12.8% of all UK exports and directly employs some 168,00 people.

Which means it is non-trivially important to the overall UK economy.

Sales Numbers Could Make One Swoon In June

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive see solid figures for June ’21 sales

By Gary S. Vasilash

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive have come out with their prediction for how June 2021 sales will come in, and the prediction is that it will be a 12.4% increase over June 2020—which isn’t all that surprising, given that in June 2020 we were still in the midst of the pandemic—and even a smidge, as in 0.3%, better than June 2019 (taking into account available selling days).

However, looking at the second quarter of 2021 in its entirety, things are rather robust, as in a 44.2% increase over Q2 2020 and a 10.7% increase over Q2 2019.

But there are some other figures that need to be taken into account.

One of those numbers is $38,088. That’s the average price of a new vehicle, which is a first half record according to the two organizations. It is a 10.1% (or $3,497) rise compared to the same period in 2019 and a 14.1% (or $4,699) increase over the number in 2019.

The average transaction price—as in what people actually pay for a vehicle from a dealer—is expected to be $40,206, a record high.

The organizations see retailer profits rise from $1,310 in the first half of 2020 and $1,457 in the first half of 2019 to $2,844.

Explains Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, “Consumers are buying more expensive vehicles despite smaller discounts, which is dramatically increasing the profitability of those sales for both manufacturers and retailers.”

Although there is evident agitation on behalf of some of an economic bent regarding the rise in inflation, recognize that here are consumers who are buying big, which means that OEMs are going to make more expensive vehicles because they’re selling, which means that there will be a continued rise. . .

Until there isn’t.

Some Sales Numbers to Consider

All things considered, the auto market in the U.S. is doing remarkably well

By Gary S. Vasilash

According to LMC Automotive, a forecasting and market intelligence firm, in the month of May there were some 1.59-million light vehicles sold in the U.S.

Which in and of itself is somewhat meaningless unless you keep track of things like that.

What may be helpful to know is that that number is a 43% increase compared to May 2020.

Of course, May 2020 was a period when we were in the thick of COVID, with not a whole lot of people going to kick tires unless those tires were on one’s vehicle in one’s garage.

Another thing that those who look at the numbers do is calculate the annualized rate of sales.

In April the annualized rate was 18.8 million vehicles, which essentially means that if things continued for the rest of the year like April there would be a total of 18.8 million vehicles sold.

In May the annualized rate fell to 17.2 million.

Given that part of LMC’s business is forecasting, that is a good thing, as it has, and continues to predict, that the 2021 light vehicle sales will be 17 million vehicles.

And the good thing for the industry about that is that if it does finish at 17 million, that is an 18% increase over 2020.

Arguably the would be more vehicles sold were it not for the semiconductor shortage.

Last year COVID.

This year the semiconductor problem (and some COVID).

Next year?

Locusts?

Something Surprising About SUVs

Yes, they are selling in the U.S. and Canada in great numbers, but the Mexican market still likes cars, LMC finds

By Gary S. Vasilash

Although SUVs (yes, including crossovers under that omnibus name) continue to proliferate in the U.S. and Canadian markets, turns out that things aren’t quite the same in the other USMCA country, Mexico.

According to LMC Automotive, while SUV sales surpassed those of cars in Canada in 2015 and in the U.S. in 2016, in 2020 cars outsold SUVs in Mexico. And not just by a little.

Nissan still sells cars in Mexico. (Image: Nissan)

The LMC data show that cars outsold SUVs by more than 2:1.

That said, there is growth in SUV sales in Mexico notes LMC Americas Vehicle Sales Forecasts analyst David Oakley, but there is an issue: “The overarching obstacle is cost, with SUVs still carrying a larger price tag than many high volume cars.”

Complicating matters for Mexican consumers is the fact that Ford and Chevrolet have pretty much given up on cars, about which Oakley says, “these brands seem to have jumped the gun with regard to Mexico’s readiness for such a shift.”

Although it is estimated that cars and SUVs will reach parity in sales by 2030 in Mexico, there are still several years of sales between now and then, sales that will probably go to brands like Hyundai and Nissan.

Mitsubishi and Amazon: An Intro Platform, Not a Sales Channel

If there is any company that really needs its next launch to go off well it is Mitsubishi Motors North America. The vehicle in question is the 2022 Outlander, an SUV.

For 2020 its sales were down in the U.S. by 28%–a big hit to any company—but what makes matters worse, the total number is just 87,387, or about the number of Lincoln SUVs sold in 2020 (87,893)—and let’s face it, Lincoln SUVs have better margins than the Mitsubishi models so the Mitsubishi number is less good than it might be. (Or to be more apples-to-apples, Ford sold 178,496 Escapes in 2020.)

The Outlander has a lot riding on it.

As there seems to be a growing interest in vehicles with off-road cred, Mitsubishi is in good shape given its experience in rally racing, including the Dakar. Kentaro Honda, segment chief vehicle engineer, said of the new Outlander, “We took everything we know about on- and off-road driving from the rally experiences to apply the latest Super All-Wheel Control technology in our newly developed platform. We also specifically developed a new drive mode selector to provide confident driving at all times and in all weather conditions. We hope that many customers will have great experiences with the enhanced driving performance of the all-new Outlander.”

Presumably, this means the vehicle will be off-road worthy—and yet make it simple enough for the likely intended buyer (think someone living in the snowbelt—but in the suburbs, not some mountain top) to be able to dial-in what’s needed without having had a training course at Moab.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander to be revealed on Amazon Live February 16. But no, they won’t deliver one to your house with Prime. (Image: Mitsubishi Motors North America)

To address that demographic, the global reveal will occur on Amazon Live, Tuesday, February 16 at 6 p.m. EST.

Despite the venue, you cannot get a 2022 Outlander through Amazon Prime.

(Although I’m betting that in the not-too-distant future, Amazon will someone work its way around dealer franchise laws and. . .)