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 CMaxChat.com 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?