U.S. car sales are expected to rise in June, and most manufacturers are expected to post gains. One notable exception is Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), which is already under siege for missteps in both America and abroad.
Cox Automotive provides forecasts for U.S. car sales by major manufacturers every month. In sum, the nationwide total should be up 2.1% to 1,500,000, compared to June 2017. Ford’s sales for the same period are expected to fall 1.0% to 255,000. The only other major player in the industry likely to show a decline is Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), the sales of which are expected to drop 1.2% to 200,000.
Ford’s two major rivals are expected to do unusually well compared to the industry. General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sales are expected to rise 4.9% to 255,000. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) sales are expected to jump 7.8% to 202,000. If the year to date has set any pattern, it is that Ford’s sales would be much worse if not for the sales of the F-Series full-sized pickup, the top-selling vehicle in the United States and about 35% of Ford’s total sales. The Jeep and Ram pickup divisions have bolstered Fiat Chrysler’s results. GM has enough sport utility vehicles and crossovers across its brands to hold its own.
The Cox Automotive experts wrote:
GM is expected to continue to see strong sales gains as the popularity of Equinox and Traverse crossovers lifts Chevrolet. Jeep is also expected to perform well as demand for rugged crossovers fits well with their portfolio. Ford is likely to see some declines as aging product in some segments holds them back.
In April, Ford announced that it would stop selling most of its sedans in the United States, a sign that its mix of vehicles was hampering profits in North America.
The United States is only one problem of many Ford faces. Among others is tumbling sales in China, the world’s largest car market. It has set a partnership with Chinese tech company Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU). From the Ford press release, it is hard to see how this will work:
Ford Motor (China) Ltd. and Baidu, Inc. agreed to explore strategic collaborations to enrich the consumer experience and build a sustainable mobility ecosystem in China.
Ford China and Baidu will jointly explore cooperation across a variety of domains including connectivity and digital services, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.
There is also a widely held perception that Ford’s plans for electric cars and autonomous vehicles are behind most of the rest of the industry.
Ford needs its U.S. division to do better.