26% drop in fleet a big drag

on Aug2

U.S. sales of the Ford Edge crossover rose 6.1 percent to 11,156, a July record. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

Ford Motor Co.’s July sales fell 7.4 percent as fleet orders were impacted by a late June recall.

The automaker’s retail sales dropped 1 percent, while fleet sales fell 26 percent. Ford officials said the fleet decline was due to order timing and a recent recall of about 402,000 Transit vans with faulty driveshaft flexible coupling.

Ford at the time said the callback would cost $142 million, and officials said Tuesday that it also stalled fleet orders for the vans.

As the year continues, Ford expects fleet order timing will normalize and sales figures will rise.

The automaker’s car sales continued to struggle, down 19 percent, while pickup/van sales fell 6.9 percent. SUV/crossover sales, meanwhile, rose 2.2 percent.

“Customers across the country drove retail gains of Ford brand SUVs in July,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. “SUV retail sales were up 9.1 percent nationally, with growth in every region of the country. High-series SUVs were in strong demand with customers representing nearly 30 percent of retail sales.”

Edge sales rose 6.1 percent to 11,156, a July record. Explorer sales rose 12 percent and Escape sales increased 5.5 percent.

LaNeve said half of the orders for the new Expedition, due out this fall, are of the highest trim level.

F-series sales rose 5.8 percent last month, and average transaction prices jumped $2,500 per truck to $45,000.

Sales of the Lincoln luxury brand dropped 2.5 percent. Lincoln utility sales fell 5.3 percent while Lincoln car sales rose 2.6 percent, driven by the Continental sedan, which was not on sale this time last year.

Police interceptor utility sales rose 7.3 percent last month amid concerns over potential carbon monoxide leaks. LaNeve said Tuesday that sales have not been impacted by the issue.

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