Suddenly, Ford Offers Big Discounts on New F-Series Pickups

The new Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) F-Series pickup is supposed to be the future of trucks. With parts of it made with aluminum and high-strength steel, the new F-Series weighs less than past versions. Therefore it should get better gas mileage, and even provide a better ride, according to Ford. So, why is the manufacturer offering steep discounts in some markets?

Ford’s sales of 2015 F-Series started out slowly this year. Lack of production facilities for a model with so many changes from earlier models hurt availability. That, in turn, undermined unit sales. Presumably, Ford has solved that problem by now. Major incentives to draw in buyers of the new Ford F-Series have to make analysts assume that the new, lighter truck has not seen wild demand.

In New York City, the F-Series is available in at least one configuration, with $4,250 in total savings. This model in question is the F-150 XLT. There are discounts on several other versions.

Another piece of early evidence that demand for Ford’s new pickup is weak is March sales. F-Series results fell 4.6% to 67,706. Those results were worse than for the entire first quarter, during which sales rose 2.3% to 177,312.

Something is wrong with Ford’s public assessment of sales of its flagship product. The F-Series represents about a fifth of all sales of Ford light trucks and cars in the United States. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the success of the 2015 model, particularly because it is such a radical departure from earlier versions. In addition, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has made it clear it will discount its Chevy Silverado, the second best-selling vehicle in America, with sales well behind the F-Series. The third contender in the market is the Ram pickup made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU). Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) probably will be in the market with another competitor.

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Ford appears to have misjudged the demand for the new F-Series. The vehicle is important enough to Ford that it will affect its bottom line. There is no other reasonable conclusion to be drawn.