Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. sales fell 0.5% in November, though electric vehicle sales hit a record high.
Ford on Monday reported selling 145,559 vehicles last month, down from 146,364 in November 2022. Sales of EVs were up 43% to almost 9,000 vehicles with Ford No. 2 behind Tesla Inc. Hybrid vehicle sales, meanwhile, rose 75%.
The record high EV sales come as the Dearborn automaker is pulling back its EV investments. Ford has cut $12 billion in planned expenditures, including nearly halving the size of its future battery plant in west Michigan’s Marshall and delaying the launch of production at one battery plant in Kentucky. Those pullbacks are in response to slower growth in EV sales than had been forecasted, though EV sales volumes still are growing.
The bulk of deliveries in November, however, came from internal combustion engine vehicles. Those were down 6.5% as several products built at plants that the United Auto Workers had struck this fall during labor talks saw fewer sales than last year.
Pickup trucks took a hit. They were down 2.8% year-over-year. SUV sales were up 0.7%. Mustang sales were up nearly 32%.
Numerous nameplates under the Ford brand were down in October, including the Bronco SUV, the Explorer SUV, the Expedition SUV, the Ranger pickup, the Transit and E-Transit cargo vans, the F-Series trucks and heavy trucks. The plants producing most of these vehicles had been on strike as a part of the UAW’s 41-day work stoppage that ended Oct. 25.
Although F-Series trucks were down 3.8% year-over-year, sales of the electric F-150 Lightning rose 113% to a record monthly and year-to-date high. The F-150 Hybrid’s sales were up 36%. Together, they made up a quarter of F-150 sales. The Mustang Mach-E SUV rose 21% in sales.
The company highlighted the Maverick as the best-selling hybrid pickup, with sales up 252% over last year. Overall, Maverick sales were up 39% in November.
Sales of Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand rose 2.2% on a nearly 58% increase in Nautilus SUV sales. Corsair and Aviator SUV sales dropped.
The Blue Oval’s stock was at nearly 462,000 vehicles at the end of November, including 186,000 F-Series trucks alone. The company produced 2.278 million vehicles in North America through the first 11 months of the year, including more than 205,000 in November.
Ford has been ramping production back up at its three assembly plants the UAW struck: Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, home of the Ranger and Bronco; Chicago Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator; and Kentucky Truck Plant, which produces Super Duty trucks, the Lincoln Navigator and the Ford Expedition. The strike also disrupted production at numerous other Ford plants, resulting in thousands of temporary layoffs.
As of Monday, all workers had been called back to work, Ford spokesperson Jessica Enoch said. The company also has returned to full production schedules at the three assembly plants where workers went on strike.
Ford reported last week that the strike resulted in a $1.7 billion earnings hit. Sill, the company is forecasting a full-year adjusted operating income of $10 billion to $10.5 billion.
Ford workers in late November ratified a new agreement that includes 27% wage increases over four-and-a-half years, a shorter timeline to the top wage, cost-of-living adjustments, increased retirement contributions and $8.1 billion in investments. Ford says the contract will add $900 in cost per vehicle on average by 2028, which the automaker says it will look to absorb with improved efficiencies and cost reductions elsewhere.
Crosstown rivals General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV report sales on a quarterly basis. Of the automakers that report U.S. sales on a monthly basis, several reported year-over-year gains in November, including Honda Motor Co. Ltd. up 33%, Hyundai Motor Co. up 11% to a record volume and Subaru Corp. up 6.4%.
Auto information resources Cox Automotive Inc. was predicting a 6.5% increase in sales for November for the overall industry with a seasonally adjusted annual rate near 15.3 million vehicles. Inventory levels, now at 2.4 million, are recovering from years-long parts shortages and nearing 2020 levels.
“A slight rise in sales volume is expected in November, but the sales pace will decline for the second straight month,” Charlie Chesbrough, Cox’s senior economist, said in a forecast. “October is normally one of the slowest sales months of the year, and the buying pace generally increases in November and December. This year, however, despite more discounting and more promotion, we are expecting the sales pace to slow slightly in a weak buying climate.”