C-Max Hybrid and Energi sales fell 11 percent from November 2012 with 4,310 vehicles sold in December. This was worse than my projection a few days ago that C-Max sales would be flat. The sales of C-Max were especially disappointing considering the month-to-month sales increase of Focus and Fiesta vehicles for the month. Focus sales were up 23 percent from November 2012 (22,604 in December, 18,312 in November). Fiesta sales were up 52 percent from November 2012 (5,612 in December, 3,688 in November). There wasn’t any discussion in the investor conference call for the decline in C-Max Hybrid and Energi sales in December. There also wasn’t the same enthusiasm by Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service in the growth of electrified vehicles as during last month’s investor conference call.
After the November sales announcement, I expected very strong December sales for the C-Max Hybrid and Energi. That didn’t happen. I had two reasons to expect strong December sales. There are many early adopters of the C-Max Energi that had orders placed, but were not yet filled. I also expected Ford to start filling the large GE order of 2,000 C-Max Energi vehicles. Although December C-Max Energi sales were not included in the press release, it appears as though the C-Max Energi sales must have been weak. They certainly weren’t the strong sales I expected a month ago. As I pointed out recently, it is clear there is a scarcity of the Ford C-Max Energi in dealer showrooms. I couldn’t find any C-Max Energi inventory at dealers on Christmas Eve. There appears to be plenty of C-Max Hybrids in dealer showrooms now. I have been able to find some C-Max Energi’s at dealers in the last few days, with one willing to discount the vehicle by more than $1000 off MSRP. There were many holds placed on C-Max Energi customer ordered vehicles built-in December. At least some C-Max Energi customers orders were filled before year-end, but one had serious cosmetic defects on the exterior of the vehicle.
It isn’t clear what affect the C-Max Hybrid class-action suit against Ford over MPG has had on the market. I expect that the media publicity and customer expectations for the MPG of the C-Max must have had a negative impact on sales. It will be interesting to see the success, or lack of it, in the first quarter of 2013 for the new Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi.