OAKVILLE, ONT. — Ford Canada expects Explorer to rebound from a 53 per cent sales decline through three quarters once more of the redesigned utility vehicle is shipped into the country, and as Ford resolves manufacturing issues at the Chicago plant where it is built.
“There was a big changeover in Chicago,” CEO Dean Stoneley said.
“It was really complex, so there is that gap of balancing out the old one and bringing in the new one.
“That would be why we see the year-over-year [sales] decline, but we expect to get that back up.”
Through September, Explorer sales in Canada were down 53 per cent to 6,955 units from a year earlier, making it one of just two Ford light-truck models to have a year-over-year sales decline, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit. Ford no longer reports monthly sales, so October and November numbers were not known, though November, it’s estimated sales remain down 50 per cent. Explorer sales were also down in the United States.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford president for automotive, said the company “took on too much” with the redesigned Explorer and the US $1-billion investment in the Chicago plant.
The new Explorer began arriving at dealerships September, said Ford Canada spokeswoman Lauren More.
Stoneley was optimistic the new Explorer will sell well in Canada, particularly the ST performance trim level. Despite just getting started, he said, sales to date “have a high mix of ST.” Stoneley discussed a number of issues with Automotive News Canada Managing Editor Grace Macaluso and Reporter John Irwin in late October at Ford of Canada headquarters in Oakville, near Toronto.
ON NEW AND REDESIGNED FORD AND LINCOLN PRODUCTS
Our product cycle is kind of coming to an end in many of our key segments, so we’re right now on the cusp of launching a whole lot of new vehicles. And by the end of next year, 75 per cent of our lineup will be new. “We expect that we’ll only go up from there.
ON SALES NUMBERS
The market is down about four per cent year-to-date. We’re down about three per cent when you just look at combined [Ford and Lincoln] sales. We’re off a bit, and I would think part of that [involves] aging products. I think the reason that we’ve gained share ... is a testament to our dealers; they’ve done a great job of being able to not just serve customers, but really being able to sell the value of our products. It’s difficult when you’ve got a four-year-old or five-year-old product and you’re competing against brand-new products.
ON INCENTIVE SPENDING
We’ve been disciplined in terms of incentives. If anything, we’ve de-escalated in our key segments. So, if I look at F series, if I look at Super Duty, we’re underspending versus our competition. And again, that’s on a truck that’s approaching the end of its life cycle.
Being in that position helps us spend less because we have that equity and that customer base, so we’re not chasing our competitors.
ON PRODUCT BUILT IN OAKVILLE
The Edge has been amazing for us. This plant has been exporting to many countries around the world; righthand drive, left-hand drive, different powertrains for different markets. We also build the Lincoln Nautilus there, which is actually our highest volume Lincoln plant globally.
We’ve had flexible manufacturing in that plant, which ... allows us to flex between these various products, both Ford and Lincoln.
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ELECTRIFIED EDGE UTILITY VEHICLE