Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) F-150 pickup went through a major transformation last year. The manufacturer began sales of a part aluminum body product. Sales were hampered by production problems. F-150 sales rose 3.5% to 780,354 for the full year 2015. December sales were much better, up 14.6% to 85,211. The new version of the F-150 has caught on with pickup consumers. Can the momentum continue enough for F-150 sales to rise 15% to 900,000?
Ford will need at least two tailwinds to push F-150 sales so rapidly. One is the consumer. The other is the ability of the F-150 to take market share from General Motor Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Chevy Silverado and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.’s (NYSE: FCAU) Ram. Silverado sales rose 13.0% last year to 600,544. Ram sales sputtered, up only 2.6% to 451,116. Ford’s decision to launch a new F-150 with radical changes from previous years should show in the results.
The consumer is a larger consideration. Some analysts believe vehicle sales in the United States peaked last year at 17.5 million. If the buying drops off, all the manufacturers will hit a hurdle. Pickup consumers are largely different from consumers who buy cars. So, pickup sales could rise and passenger car sales fall. However, a downdraft in the industry will be hard for any one segment to overcome.
The F-150. The economy and the test of a new version. Ford could sell 900,000 F-150 models.