Where have all the Ford trucks gone?

OAKVILLE, Ont. (May 4) — Ford Motor Co. was reassuring when it sold its heavy-truck business to Freightliner Corp. in 1997: the company planned to remain a fixture in the medium-duty market.

But in recent months, Ford’s sales figures have jumped around more than the price of a high-tech stock:

-> First, Ford’s class-6 sales in the U.S. surged to massive market-share levels. For the first three months of 1999, Ford reported class-6 sales of 4002 vehicles and a 41.5% market share, compared to 1112 sales and a 17.3% share for the first quarter of 1998. Also, total class-6 sales for 1998 were 10,686 compared to just 2609 for all of 1997.

-> Then, Ford sales disappeared from the class-5 and class-6 Canadian retail sales statistics provided by the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association.

What gives?

“Ford is now reporting U.S. sales of motor-home and RV chassis as part of our class-6 totals, and our production there has surged since General Motors pulled out of that business last year,” Marci Evans, a Ford spokesperson in Detroit, explains.

“Also, there has been a bit of a boost in actual class-6 truck output in the last three months or so as we produced the last F-800s in preparation for changing the line over to our new F-650 and F-750 Super Duty models.”

Regarding the lack of numbers for Ford sales in class 5 and class 6 in Canada, Terry Spyropoulos, medium-duty truck brand manager at Ford Canada determined that, although class-6 has been in a bit of limbo due to the fact that the F-650 (and its bigger brother, the class-7 F-750) won’t be released in Canada until October, there has been class-5 action thanks to the F-550.

“It turns out our sales planning division has been reporting everything through class-5 to the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association under one ‘light trucks’ total,” he says. “We’ve now made changes to the process, and you will start seeing class-5 broken out and reported separately.”

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