Depending on what you count and when you count, everybody’s a winner. At least that seems to be the thinking behind the latest hybrid car sales figures from Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). The company has sliced and diced November sales figures in ways that tell a good story for the company, but not the whole story.
Ford claims that its sold 8,030 units of its Ford C-Max vehicles in October and November, the first two months that the car were available, beating the sales total for the first two months of sales for the Toyota Camry Hybrid from Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM). Of course the first two months of Camry Hybrid sales were more than six years ago, in May and June of 2006. The Detroit-based carmaker also says that the C-Max Hybrid and the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid are selling “three times faster than the combined launch sales” of Toyota Prius and the Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) Insight in 2000.
One might observe that before 2000, no car buyer had even seen a hybrid and that plowing new ground is a lot harder to do than waiting six or a dozen years for someone else to till and enrich the soil. But that’s a quibble surely.
Ford also said that November sales of its C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi totaled 7,157 units, and outsold the Prius v and the Prius plug-in by a combined 10%. That’s true, but the data has been cherry-picked. The Prius v and the Prius plug-in sold a total of 4,456 units according to hybridcars.com. If one totals all hybrid models from the two carmakers, Toyota sold nearly 21,000 hybrids (not counting Lexus-branded models, which would add another 2,700 or so sales) to Ford’s 7,157 units, which includes the Ford Escape, the Lincoln MKZ hybrid, and the Ford Fusion. Of a total of slightly more than 42,000 hybrids and plug-ins sold in November, Toyota and Lexus sold more than half.
We’re not trying to take anything away from Ford’s achievement here. It’s new C-Max vehicles have been strong sellers — in two months Ford has come from nowhere in hybrid sales to second overall. That’s a big move and Ford deserves some praise. But maybe it could turn down the volume.
Ford’s shares are up 1.6% today at $11.27 in a 52-week range of $8.82 to $13.05.