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US:Share is lower by a point at Ford

Share is lower by a point at Ford

Retail segment falls despite its efforts


Ford Motor Co. came up short last year in its effort to win a higher share of the retail market.

Retail share fell by 1 point to 16 percent for the Ford brand; Lincoln Mercury lost only 0.1 point, to about 2.0 percent, Earl Hesterberg, Ford's group vice president in charge of sales and marketing, said Monday.

With the most ambitious new-product plan in company history, executives were hoping to gain share in the retail market -- sales to individual customers -- not the so-called fleet sales to governments, rental-car companies and other businesses that buy in bulk and get a discount.

Ford had already planned to cut production of the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable -- many of which were sold unprofitably to Ford-owned rental agency Hertz Corp. So Ford executives knew they would lose some overall market share in 2004.

Ford's traditional brands' share fell 1.2 points last year to 19.6 percent. Its European luxury brands were steady at 1.3 percent of the U.S. market.

In the face of the declining overall market share, Ford executives maintained during the year that they were targeting a retail share gain, but that goal was not reached.

Ford's plan to cut incentives and make the most money possible per vehicle meant giving up some sales in the retail market, said Greg Smith, Ford's executive vice president in charge of the Americas.

"We had a conscious strategy . . . to be a little more judicious about how we go at the marketplace," he said.

Ford's average incentives increased by $313 per vehicle, or 9.7 percent, last year, Autodata Corp. reports.

That was well below the increases at General Motors Corp. ($474) and the Chrysler Group ($446).

Despite the smaller increase in incentives, Ford did very well with its full-size F-Series pickups and other new models.

"We've got momentum," Hesterberg said.

Many of those pickups, especially the bigger SuperDuty pickups, like the F-250, are sold to business fleets. But those tend to be profitable sales.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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