Ford Motor said U.S. November vehicle sales fell 10% from a year earlier, driven by a decline in truck sales as consumers moved to more fuel-efficient options. Analysts were expecting a 5% increase in Ford sales.
Ford's chief sales analyst George Pipas said he expects a decline in overall U.S. auto sales in 2007 as the economy and housing sector slow. He also predicts Ford will lose market share in the full-size pickup truck segment, even though the company just introduced new F-series pickups.
Pipas said retail sales of Ford cars and light trucks fell 7%. He said the decline in showroom sales was "disappointing" and marked a weaker result than the automaker had expected.
"We had our sights set higher," Pipas told reporters and analysts on a conference call to discuss November sales results.
The second-largest U.S. automaker said it sold 182,259 vehicles in the United States last month, compared with 201,711 vehicles a year earlier.
November car sales were 3% lower than a year ago, reflecting lower deliveries to fleet customers. Overall, truck sales dropped 13%. However, sales rose for Ford's all-new,
full-size sport utility vehicles, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
Ford also lowered its North American production estimates by 2.5% for the current quarter and announced production goals for the first three months of 2007 that were in line with previous estimates.
Ford, however, said car sales to individual retail customers were up for the Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ mid-size sedans. Ford's figures include the Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover brands.
Ford lowered its production estimates for the fourth quarter of 2006, saying it plans to build 620,000 vehicles, including 240,000 cars and 380,000 trucks. That's 15,000 less than previously announced.
Ford said the change reflected the temporary suspension of Freestar minivan production at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada.
And it said production in the first quarter of 2007 will total 750,000 vehicles, including 240,000 cars and 510,000 trucks. That's down about 14% from production in the first quarter of 2006.
Ford said the goal put it on pace with earlier estimates that production in the first six months of 2007 would be 8 to 12 percent lower than the first half of 2006.