Ford Loses Ground in Pickup Wars

The top-selling vehicle in America for most of the past three decades was the top-selling vehicle again in February. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) sold 55,236 F-Series full-size pickups last month, down 1.2% from the same month last year.

The F-series was expected to be a breakout success this year. It has a new aluminum body, which cuts its weight by as much as 700 pounds. In theory, the truck should get better gas mileage. The only barrier to demand seems to be lack of supply, which Ford says is a problem. However, the trouble is deeper than that. Anyone who buys a competing model is, as obvious as it may seem, a lost sale for Ford. People do not buy a new pickup several times a year. While it may be hard to measure, some number of customers bought a General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) Chevy Silverado or a Dodge Ram from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NASDAQ: FCAU) last month.

Even without the help of poor sales of the F-series, Silverado and Ram probably would have bested the F-Series in growth. Sales of the Silverado rose 24.1% to 45,395, while Ram sales were up 6.8% to 32,942.

Ford management spent a great deal of time talking about the success of other models sold in February:

Explorer sales of 17,027 vehicles were up 32 percent, marking the SUV’s best February sales results since 2006.

Mustang sales increased 32 percent with 8,454 vehicles sold — representing its best February sales since 2007 and making it the best-selling sports car in America since the launch of the all new model last fall.

Good, but not good enough for Ford, which has to wait to build inventories of F-Series pickups that may or may not sell.

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