Ford, analysts downplay F-150 incentives

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. and industry analysts are downplaying F-150 incentives a day after a report the automaker is offering up to $10,000 in discounts on its most popular and profitable vehicle.

Customers can receive discounts of up to $7,050 on certain F-150 models, Ford said. Dealers in a handful of cities have added their own incentive package onto some trucks, which could reach $10,000.

Those incentive packages include discounts that are not F-150 specific, such as $750 off if financed through Ford Credit, or $2,500 back in bonus cash. Ford said Thursday the average F-Series incentive was $3,100 per truck — less than the industry average and about $600 less than what Ford offered this time last year on the previous-generation truck.

“I don’t know if (the incentives are) a huge deal,” Kelley Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand said. “In some cases they’re isolated instances. By and large, it’s not a demand issue across the nation for the F-150. It seems like it may be a marketing thing more than anything.”

Demand appears to be strong for the aluminum-bodied pickup. Ford said the trucks are sitting on dealer lots for an average of 32 days and are selling twice as fast as other vehicles in the segment. Average transaction prices are $44,100, the highest in the half-ton pickup segment and a record for Ford.

Still, issues remain for Ford’s most popular vehicle. Supply is about half what it was at this time last year, Ford said. U.S. sales fell 8.9 percent last month and market share has dropped to 28 percent in June from 33 percent a year earlier.

In May, the United Auto Workers said a lack of truck frames — made by Metalsa in Kentucky — forced Ford to cut weekend overtime shifts at its Dearborn Truck Plant and Kansas City Assembly Plant. Ford did not directly comment on the shortage or slowed production.

“More of the focus should be on Ford’s production and supply,” Anand said. “The truck has been out for several months now and they’ve said supply has been ramping up, but the reality is there’s still tight supply issues. That should be first and foremost on Ford’s mind.”

Ford has said it expects supply levels will normalize by this fall. “As we get back to normal supply levels we’ll be disciplined but competitive in our approach,” Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said.

Ford’s crosstown rivals have capitalized on its problems. Sales of GM’s Chevrolet Silverado truck jumped 18 percent last month, as its share of the full-size pickup market grew two points to 25.9 percent. Sales rose 0.6 percent for Fiat Chrysler’s Ram pickup and gained 4.3 percent in the first half.

Chevy also is playing on potential concerns over Ford’s extensive use of aluminum, airing a series of Web ads poking fun at the F-150s to insinuate — not so subtly — that steel is a safer, cheaper and better option for building pickups.

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