Ford Says Trump Presidency Could Boost Truck Sales
Ford Motor Company’s president of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs, says Trump’s presidency could spark big growth in sales for the pickup truck segment. Hinrichs cites Trump’s pro-growth and promise of extensive infrastructure revitalization as factors, which could spark truck demand.
“If the infrastructure investment in the United States takes off as part of the conversation with the new administration, that certainly could help the industry and the business,” Hinrichs said at the Automotive News World Congress.
Ford sold an impressive 820,000 F-Series trucks in 2016. That marks the F-Series’ highest sales since 2005. Ford is currently chasing the 1 million annual sales mark for the F-Series, having almost reached the goal in 2004 with more than 930,000 units sold in the U.S. Adding the 145,409 F-Series trucks sold in Canada that year technically pushes Ford to its goal, but Ford undoubtedly wants to claim the title for sole U.S. sales.
While Hinrichs’ optimism is well founded in an a-political statement regarding economics, it just seems odd for a Ford executive to be commenting positively about a Trump administration after the flack Trump gave Ford on the campaign trail over its plan to relocate small car production from Michigan to Mexico. As we reported, Ford canceled the plans after Trump’s November victory, vowing to invest in American manufacturing.
Part of that boost will come with the upcoming 2019 Ranger pickup and 2020 Bronco SUV. Both were officially announced at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, though no concept vehicles or even renderings were shows. Ford is also divulged it will bring five new utility vehicles to the U.S. by 2020, including the Bronco. And though initial speculation pegged the iconic nameplate as being a rebadged Ford Everest, Hinrichs said the Bronco will be “true to its heritage” and “you’ll recognize it as a Bronco.”
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Ford’s Medium Duty Truck Sales Up 59 Percent, Best Year Since 1997
Ford is experiencing a major success with its new 2016 F-650 and F-750 medium duty trucks. Since their launch in August of 2015, the trucks have sold 10,160 units, representing a 59-percent increase in year-over-year sales. It was 1997 when Ford last had this much gain in its medium duty segment.
“We’re seeing growing interest in the new tractor from beverage and hauling fleets,” says Kevin Koester, Ford medium-duty truck and Super Duty fleet marketing manager. “Giving our customers the choice of two exclusive powertrains, available across all body styles and designed specifically for the unique needs of the vocational truck market, has really helped drive sales of our new trucks.”
Ford credits its sales growth to big improvements with the F-650 and F-750. They include a quieter, more insulated cabin, multiple frame designs and wheelbase choices to suit a wide variety of customers, and powertrain improvements that include both gasoline and diesel engines backed by Ford’s heavy-duty automatic transmission.
The F-650 and F-750 remain the only medium-duty trucks to offer a gasoline engine, the 6.8-liter V-10. Added to that is the option for a CNG fuel system, giving customers the choice between running standard gasoline or Compressed Natural Gas. The diesel engine is familiar to Super Duty customers – the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel. Ford offers the engine in three stages of tune. The base tune makes 270 horsepower and 675 pound-feet of torque. The mid-rage tune boosts power to 300 horses and 700 pound-feet of torque. Those doing extremely heavy lifting will want the 300-horse, 725 pound-feet version. Fleet bosses also love Ford’s five-year/250,000-mile warranty on the Power Stroke.
“Towing and rental customers have embraced the gas engine, and others are looking at this powertrain for more severe service applications,” Koester says. “Our diesel customers are praising the quietness of the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. Not only is it up to 45 percent quieter in the cabin at idle than the outgoing model, it’s so quiet that customers have told us that there have been times when they’ve approached the truck in front of the grille and didn’t even realize it was running.”
While NVH levels aren’t generally selling points for commercial trucks, the quite operation certainly isn’t a detractor.
Ford also builds the F-650 and F-750 at its Ohio Assembly Plant near Cleveland, having moved production from Mexico in late 2015. The automaker invested some $168 million in the Ohio plant before beginning work on the F-650 and F-750.
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Ford To Leave Japan and Indonesia by 2017
Ford Motor Company has announced to its dealership networks in Japan and Indonesia that it will cease operations by the end of 2016, the Associated Press reports. This comes as slumping sales and tight government restrictions lead to 2015 being the driest year for Ford in recent memory. The U.S. automaker sold a mere 11,614 units in both countries.
Despite being the third largest auto market, Japan only purchased 5,000 Ford cars in 2015. However, Ford isn’t the only automaker with slow sales in Japan. Imported vehicles account for only six percent of new car sales. This move to end operations in the country will end a 40-year relationship and eventually close the 52 dealerships in operation. Ford has promised to continue honoring warranties and services for Ford owners.
Much of the same can be said for the island nation of Indonesia. Ford only sold 6,103 new vehicles there in all of 2015. In both counties, Japanese vehicles reign supreme in sales. Ford spokesman Neal McCarthy said of the situation, “It has become clear that there is no path to sustained profitability, nor will there be an acceptable return over time from our investments in Japan or Indonesia.”
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The wheels of automotive manufacturing might are spinning faster at Ford’s Kansas City and Dearborn assembly plants. Ford has announced it will add 1,550 new manufacturing jobs in the coming weeks as initial sales of the all-new 2015 F-150 and other F-Series trucks post their biggest January numbers in 11 years.
Totaling 54,370 F-Series trucks sold in January, reports show 18 percent of that was the new F-150, or 9,787 units. That’s not bad considering “F-Series trucks” includes the Super Duty; the automaker is still selling the previous generation F-150; and the both factories are not at full production. In fact, the Kansas City plant is still in the midst of overhauling its assembly line for the new truck.
In order to meet demand, those 1,550 new jobs will be spread between Kansas City Assembly, Dearborn Stamping, Dearborn Diversified, and the Sterling Axle facilities. Once everything reaches full capacity, Ford will be able to produce more than 700,000 F-150s annually. That capacity is critical as Ford has a history of exceeding 900,000 units sold in a calendar year.
What’s more, Ford has announced some 300 to 500 manufacturing workers will receive a pay raise from the base $19.28 hourly rate to a $28.50 hourly rate. This comes as Ford reaches its maximum allotted number of entry-level workers specified in the 2011 UAW-Ford collective bargaining agreement.
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