Ford C-Max Sales Down 44% From November Peak

After a fast start to Ford C-Max sales last year, month-to-month Ford C-Max sales dropped dramatically from December 2013 with just 2,725 vehicles sold during January 2013.  The break down between C-Max Hybrid and Energi sales wasn’t disclosed in the press release.   Although I projected a drop three days ago from December, the size of the decline, 37%, was surprising.  January was the second month-to-month decline for C-Max Hybrid and Energi sales.  As the chart below shows, there’s been a large 44% drop from the 4,848 vehicles sold in November.  In the January sales conference call, Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service didn’t discuss the C-Max sales decline.  There wasn’t any of the excitement about the C-Max that was present in the sales conference call two months ago when November sales were announced.

Last November I expected increasing C-Max sales in December and January rather than a decline.  GE ordered 2,000 C-Max Energi vehicles, an order that is in the process of being filled.  Many early adopters ordered vehicles and their orders are still being filled.  What’s happening with the C-Max?

There are many possible explanations for the drop in sales.  Ford C-Max Energi inventory was low in early January but grew toward the end of the month.  It’s possible that limited supply rather than limited demand is the reason for the drop in sales from the November peak.  Perhaps many potential C-Max Hybrid buyers are postponing a purchase decision until they see an Energi.  There’s also the problem with some owners getting less than the EPA mpg with C-Max.  There are many anecdotal accounts from C-Max owners on forums discussing car problems.  It isn’t clear yet whether Ford has problems with manufacturing quality for the C-Max.  Owners contacting about these problems is a growing concern of mine.

Ford is off to a rocky start.  It should have been much better.  Two days ago, Ford issued a press release: “Ford Achieves All-Time High Hybrid Share and Toyota Slides, as Fusion Hybrid Closes in on Another Sales Record.”  After issuing the release, numerous articles were repeating the press release without analyzing it.  I guess that’s the easy way to do journalism today.  I think it is clear that Ford wanted to spin the success of their new hybrid powertrain before the January sales were announced.  It’s clear that the C-Max is off to a more difficult sales start than I expected last year.  I’m even starting to have second thoughts about how successful C-Max will be in the marketplace now.  The C-Max has many advantages.  Positive reviews are abundant.  What do you think?  Are you convinced the C-Max will be a strong competitor to the Toyota Prius?

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Did Ford Hybrid Sales Drop Dramatically in January 2013?

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and 2013 Ford C-Max Energi

Sales of the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi may have fallen off significantly in January 2013.

It looks likely but I may be reading too much into tonight’s press release.  Ford issued a press release tonight, “Ford Achieves All-Time High Hybrid Share and Toyota Slides, as Fusion Hybrid Closes in on Another Sales Record.”  Ford notes that market share for Ford hybrids increased 9 percentage points in December 2012 from December 2011 while Toyota’s dropped 8 points.  Fine.  This is old news.  They also projected 5,500 hybrid units sold in January with the bullet point, “Ford Fusion Hybrid achieved all-time monthly sales record in December 2012 with 3,244 sales; Ford hybrids expected to deliver best January hybrid sales month ever with a projected 5,500 units sold.”  Now, let’s look at the numbers.  Ford sold 4,310 C-Max Vehicles (Hybrid and Energi) in December, down from 4,848 in November.  They sold 3,244 Fusion Hybrids in December up from 1,834 in November.  They sold 7,957 hybrids total in December 2012 including 2012 Escape and Lincoln MKZ models.  Am I reading too much into this statement?  Maybe they meant a projected 5,500 Fusion units sold.  That would be fantastic but probably too large to be correct.  If they mean they will only sell 5,500 hybrids in January, it would be an awful month for hybrids after the fast start at the end of 2012.  5,500 would be many more than in January 2012 but that isn’t a big deal.  They didn’t have the C-Max in January 2012.  They didn’t have the new Fusion Hybrid in January 2012.

Ford said the turnover rate for the Fusion Hybrid is just 10 days on average, the shortest time for a vehicle to sit on the dealer’s lot of the entire Ford lineup.  Ford also said 70 percent of new Fusion Hybrid owners were new to the Ford brand.  The press release hardly mention the Ford C-Max.

I’m not sure if we’ll know on Friday February 1st or Monday February 4th whether there is grim news for Ford hybrid sales in January.  The press release quoted above said February 4th.  There is another press release which states that the sales results will be released on Friday.


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