Curbside Newsstand/2019 US Auto Sales Coverage, Part 3: Ford Drops 3 Percent As Car Sales Decline And SUVs Get Redesigned; Lincoln Up 8.3 Percent

Ford sales declined at a higher rate than the industry average. It was the first year that Ford explicitly operated as an automaker primarily concerned with crossover, utility, and truck sales. Given the number of nameplates Ford axed within the last two years, it was inevitable that their demise would affect the sales charts. Oddly enough, the retired cars weren’t really the issue. It was the crossovers. Otherwise, Ford made out okay.

And Lincoln might be on the cusp of substantial growth.

The end times have arrived for Ford’s passenger cars. The C-Max, Focus, and Taurus are clearing out as dealers sell whatever they have left. You’d think the Fiesta would have fared poorly too, but that actually didn’t happen. Even without any new Fiestas being produced after the middle of last year, Ford managed to move 60,148 of them. The Versa was the only subcompact to outsell it, at about 66,000 units. Ford’s zombie subcompact managed to place second in the segment.

The Fusion, which is kinda-sorta cancelled, still managed to retain fourth place in the mid-size segment with 166,045 sold. Ford discounted the Fusion heavily towards the end of 2019. In early December, the company was offering up to $6,500 off the Fusion, depending on location. But not for the Hybrid or Energi models. Those only had about $1,000-$2,000 in incentives. Did the hybrids provide a stay of execution for the Fusion? Maybe.

Ford’s trucks fared pretty well given the circumstances. Despite their relative age, the F-Series only suffered a 1.4% drop in sales, selling 896,526 last year. Given the freshness of the Ram 1500 and Silverado 1500, that’s a respectable figure, especially considering the former’s extremely positive critical reception. The Ranger found 89,571 buyers last year. A number that placed it third or fourth in the mid-size truck segment, depending on how you group the GM twins.

Vans are another source of strength for the Blue Oval. The full-size Transit was up 11.7% for a grand total of 153,868 units sold. Not to be outdone, the Transit Connect moved 41,598 last year, which represented a 30.3% increase. Both models received refreshes for 2020, and the Transit now has optional all-wheel drive. They remain the top sellers of their respective segments.

The redesigned Escape and Explorer were the real problems for Ford. There have been no reported issues with the 2020 Escape, but any substantial changeover impacts supply. That likely explains why sales dropped 11.3% to 241,388. The Explorer had a much more dramatic 2019, as we’ve reported before. Those teething issues contributed to a 26.1% decrease in sales, which means Ford sold 168,309 of the old and new models last year.

On a more positive note, Edge sales increased 3.3% to 138,515. The mid-size crossover segment received two more members in 2019, which makes the Edge’s performance noteworthy. Ford’s tiny EcoSport managed to increase sales too. The stubby subcompact found 64,708 last year, a 19.1% bump from 2018. Finally, the Flex resonated with 24,484 shoppers, an astounding 20.6% increase from last year. Buyers in the market for a Flex probably knew about its demise and decided to snatch up the last remaining examples. But that’s just a hunch.

Ford’s biggest success was the Expedition. Sales are up 58.1%. At 86,422 Expeditions sold, it still doesn’t come close to matching the Tahoe/Suburban, but it’s something. And these probably make a lot of money for the company, so if Ford is upset at losing to Chevy, they can cry all the way to the bank, where their tears will probably dry up pretty quickly.

Lincoln enters the new decade in solid shape. Don’t expect a new generation of Lincoln sedans though: The Continental and MKZ only managed to sell a combined 24,311 units for 2019, a 15% drop from 2018. By contrast, Lincoln’s utility lineup performed far better. The Nautilus (aka refreshed MKX) found 31,711 buyers, which represented an 11% increase compared to the prior year. Lincoln’s Corsair was lumped in with the MKC. An understandable decision since it effectively replaces the older model. To that end, both nameplates contributed a total of 25,815 sales for Lincoln. That’s a 1.6% drop from 2018, but the Corsair is a new model, so supply was probably tight.

Lincoln’s three-row lineup did pretty well too. The MKT sold about 45% more in its last year. Navigator sales rose 4.6% to 18,656. And the Aviator just started trickling into dealerships, with 8,323 finding homes. The entire brand was up 8.3% last year. Lincoln remains a small player in the luxury segment, but it looks like there’s room to grow.