Blog: Dave LeggettFord's SUV fleet economy and SUV sales

Dave Leggett | 22 July 2003

Ford has just said that it won't meet the goal of raising the fuel economy of its sports utility vehicle US sales by 25% by 2005. One reason that Ford cites for the failure is booming sales of big SUVs while sales of the small ones have slipped, causing its overall SUV economy to worsen.

But the US sales data shows that sales of Ford's small SUV - the Escape - are actually rising this year. There are also some interesting trends apparent in SUV sales over the first half that just-auto contributor Bill Cawthon has brought to my attention. Bill points out that the numbers for the first half of 2003 get very interesting when you break them out by quarter or "pre-Iraq" and "post-Iraq." From January to the end of March, increases in sales of the Escape were accompanied by declining sales of almost every other Ford SUV model, except the Mountaineer and Navigator. The Navigator's improvement was almost negligible.

However, once the "official" fighting had ended and gas prices dropped, sales of almost all SUVs rose, but the most significant increase was in sales of the larger models. It was in April the Escape had its only setback for the year, but sales in the second quarter were still rising, just not as quickly as in the first.

In the first half, US sales of the Ford Escape were up 14.2% to 78,768 units. In anyone's language, that's not a sales slippage.


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