Ford sales drop 17% from 2021: Which models took the biggest hits

·5 min read

Ford reported a 17.1% drop in total sales in the United States from a year ago to 432,132 vehicles, according to sales data released Monday. The automaker saw a 23.4% decrease in truck sales and a 5.1% drop in SUV sales.

Ford exceeded the overall sales numbers Edmunds.com auto site forecast for the Dearborn automaker of 427,805.

The company saw a bigger percentage drop in sales than Stellantis and Toyota but not as bad as General Motors. Overall, Ford sold more vehicles than Stellantis but fewer than General Motors and Toyota.

"The global semiconductor chip shortage continues to create some challenges for Ford and the industry. But keep in mind the industry wasn't experiencing quite the same chip challenges last year as it's having this year," Erich Merkle, Ford U.S. sales analyst, told the Free Press. "F-Series had chip challenges in the first quarter. However, we took in a record 50,000 F-Series retail vehicle orders in March. These are people going into the dealerships and placing and order for F-Series."

Sales highlights for the first quarter compared with a year ago include:

  • Bronco Sport saw 24.5% growth to 29,089

  • Ford Edge saw 19.2% growth to 26,412

  • All-electric Mustang Mach-E saw 1.8% growth to 6,734

The rest of the portfolio produced grim numbers:

  • F-Series down 31% to 140,701

  • Ranger down 27% to 17,639

  • Transit down 37.3% to 17,211

  • Ford Mustang down 19% to 13,986

  • Explorer down 34.5% to 42,736

  • Expedition down 56.3% to 9,718

  • Escape down 2.5% to 39,962

  • EcoSport down 34.6% to 8,426

Maverick sold 8,695 vehicles in first quarter and wasn't for sale in 2021.

Lincoln vehicles saw an overall 24.6% drop to 19,148 vehicles from a year ago. Every model saw numbers sink, led by Navigator with a 55.5% drop to 2,148 vehicles and Aviator 18.4% lower at 4,967 vehicles. Corsair/MKC saw the smallest loss in sales with a 2.4% decline to 6,944 vehicles.

GM and Stellantis

General Motors reported Friday its first-quarter new car sales dropped 20.1% in the U.S., with 512,846 new vehicles during the first three months this year, compared with the same period a year ago. GM failed to meet the Edmunds forecast of 513,849 vehicles sold.

Stellantis reported Friday its first-quarter sales dropped 14% from a year ago in the U.S. with 405,221 new vehicles. The company failed to meet the Edmunds forecast of 420,705 vehicles sold.

Toyota reported that even though the automaker saw a 15.8% sales decline to 514,592 vehicles from a year ago, it remained the industry sales leader in the U.S. in 2022. The company exceeded the Edmunds forecast of 502,194 vehicles sold.

Edmunds.com forecast a 15.2% sales decline industry average from 2021.

New vs. used cars

Despite a decrease in overall sales so far this year, the intense demand remains consistent and one Ford dealer said Monday he sometimes feels like a therapist.

While production has been disrupted by supply chain issues, access to semiconductor chips, pandemic fallout and complicated foreign affairs, business remains strong despite tight inventory. New and used car prices continue to see an uptick.

"We're seeing a wide variety of models that are in high demand but electric and hybrid, in particular, seem to be the hottest," said Thad Szott, co-owner of Szott Auto Group that includes Szott Ford in Holly.

"If we didn’t have the supply chain issues or the inventory constraints that we are currently seeing, we would be doing more volume," he said. "Many customers are choosing to order a new vehicle and others that need something sooner are much more flexible. We always find a solution."

Car dealers continue to see strong online traffic from car shoppers as well as walk-in activity at the dealerships, Jeff King, vice president and general manager at Bozard Ford Lincoln in St. Augustine, Florida, has told the Free Press throughout the first quarter.

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"It’s crazy," Szott said Monday. "A lot of people are looking for advice."

He often gets text messages, Facebook messenger inquires and phone calls as late as midnight and 1 a.m.

Thad Szott takes a break from selling cars for Szott Ford in Holly to fish on Otsego Lake in Gaylord, Michigan, with his dog Nicki on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. He said on April 4, 2022, that he navigates calls, texts, Facebook messenger requests from shoppers who are anxious and eager.
Thad Szott takes a break from selling cars for Szott Ford in Holly to fish on Otsego Lake in Gaylord, Michigan, with his dog Nicki on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. He said on April 4, 2022, that he navigates calls, texts, Facebook messenger requests from shoppers who are anxious and eager.

Buyers watch and read news of the tight inventory, high prices and challenges to buying cars, and they feel they need to talk it through, he said.

"A lot of people looking for advice. They’re hearing all this stuff ... and they want to verify that it’s true," Szott said. "It's constant. It's like Groundhog's Day. 'What should I do? Is this true?' Yes, I explain the huge inventory shortage. And I tell people to consider pre-owned vehicles, too."

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Ongoing production shutdowns related to parts shortages and COVID-19 have led to smaller supplies of vehicles globally.

Every car has a name on it

Mark Douglas, president of Avis Ford in Southfield, said the biggest demand remains the Ford F-150 pickup, the Bronco SUV and "obviously, any electric vehicle."

The appeal of electric vehicles continues to grow, he said. "Manufacturers don’t have enough to fit the demand or number of orders that have been placed."

Mark Douglas, president of Avis Ford in Southfield,  is seen here in the showroom in July 2020. He said on April 4, 2022, the demand for vehicles continues to surge and 70% of the new vehicles he's selling are preordered by customers.
Mark Douglas, president of Avis Ford in Southfield, is seen here in the showroom in July 2020. He said on April 4, 2022, the demand for vehicles continues to surge and 70% of the new vehicles he's selling are preordered by customers.

At this point, Douglas said, 70% of vehicles sold were preordered because stock is too lean.

"I probably have two Explorers that I could potentially sell. It’s to that extent," Douglas said. "Demand is going to stay high because every car sold now basically has got a name on it."

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Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-618-1034 or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ford sales sink 17% in first quarter, hit hard by chip shortage