Ford halts Mustang production for week amid slow sales

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. is halting production at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant this week to trim rising inventories of the pony car, a spokeswoman confirmed Monday.

Year-to-date sales for the Mustang, which was redesigned for the 2015 model year, are down 9.3 percent to 87,258 through September.

“We continue to match production with demand,” spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in an email. “Mustang remains the top seller in its segment in total and retail sales.”

Mustang inventory stood at 89 days at the end of September and analysts say a healthy target is closer to 60 days supply.

Sales for the Mustang fell 32 percent last month to 6,429. Year-to-date sales for the muscle car, which was redesigned for the 2015 model year, are down 9.3 percent to 87,258 through September.

Sales of the Chevy Camaro muscle car jumped 25.4 percent in September to 6,577. That came a month after the bow-tie brand’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Camaro. But Camaro sales year-to-date through September are down 11.4 percent compared to 2015. The Camaro was redesigned for 2016.

Mustang incentives were about $2,700 last month, down from about $3,000 in August, compared to Camaro incentives that nearly tripled from about $1,100 in August to more than $3,300 in September, according to J.D. Power PIN data obtained by The Detroit News.

And inventory for the Camaro is high. Days supply hit 139 at the end of August, though fell to 120 days at the end of September.

A General Motors Co. spokesman confirmed the automaker has not taken any down time at its Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant to deal with high inventory levels. That plant also builds the Cadillac ATS and CTS models.

Through the first half of 2016, GM said its Camaro sales to retail buyers were up 4 percent over the same months in 2015 and its retail market share grew 3.8 percentage points.

Chevy spokesman James Cain said Monday that Camaro average transaction prices, after factoring in incentives, are up more than $5,000 through September this year compared to the same months in 2015.

In July, GM North America President Alan Batey told reporters that GM has a different strategy for Camaro than Ford has for Mustang. GM says it is selling about 90 percent of Camaros to retail customers.

“We are selling this product and customers are paying for the product, a great value for money,” Batey told reporters. “Ford is transacting rent-a-car fleet business, base level trims.

Our strategy here, if we have to give up share, we want to build sustainability and we want to have the best car. We have the best car and people are buying more of them and the ATPs speak for themselves.”

Bloomberg News first reported the Flat Rock plant furlough.

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Staff Writer Michael Martinez contributed.