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June Sales Fell Almost 28% at Ford
Through the first half of 2008, Ford’s sales were off 14 percent.
Sales of pickup and sport utility vehicles, have been hit particularly hard as consumers seek out more fuel-efficient alternatives. Ford said light truck sales were down 36 percent in June and 18 percent so far this year.
“Consumer fundamentals and consumer confidence deteriorated as the first half unfolded,” James D. Farley, Ford’s marketing chief, said in a statement. “The economy enters the second half of the year with a notable absence of momentum and a high degree of uncertainty.”
Shares of Ford were down more than 7 percent in trading. General Motors shares were off nearly 6 percent. G.M. and the other automakers are scheduled to report their June sales Tuesday afternoon.
Record-high gasoline prices, a housing slump and weak consumer confidence have led to a dramatic decline in sales of many vehicles, particularly the largest and most profitable ones for domestic automakers. The Ford F-series pickup truck, which has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for 26 years, was outsold by four fuel-efficient Japanese sedans in May.
Ford recently said it would delay introducing its new F-150 pickup by two months so that dealers could have more time to sell off the current version first.
The automakers increased discounts on many slower-selling models last month in the hopes of closing out the second quarter with some momentum. General Motors offered six-year, no-interest loans during the final week of June on most trucks and some cars, and some automakers have been discounting large sport utility vehicle prices by more than $9,000.
Pickups and S.U.V.’s were discounted more than 13 percent on average in June, according to Edmunds.com. Yet dealers say the deals have not done as much to draw in customers as huge sales did several years ago.
“Compared to a year ago, we’re off 65 to 70 percent,” said Preston Mays, sales manager for Superior Chevrolet in Decatur, Ga. Mr. Mays said no-interest loans have become less effective than cash rebates because so many shoppers owe more on their current vehicle than it is worth, and the sour economy means they need a discount more than free financing.
“People need these prices to go down,” he said. “They’re trying to put gas in the vehicle and feed their families.”
Most dealers say the slowdown has made their jobs considerably more challenging but that they already are starting to see a few more customers as gas prices have appeared somewhat more stable at around $4 a gallon.
“June actually picked up a little bit for us,” said Jerrel Richards, sales manager at Lone Star Ford in Houston. “It’s not as bad as people think. We’re still surviving. We’re still selling trucks. We’re still turning a profit.”
The three Detroit automakers have each said recently that they would significantly cut production of trucks and build more passenger cars in response to the shift in consumers’ preferences. Chrysler on Monday announced plans to close a minivan plant near St. Louis and cut a one of two shifts at an adjacent pickup plant.
G.M. is temporarily halting the assembly lines at seven truck factories in North America before closing four plants permanently within the next three years. Ford says it will build
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