Ford’s 2021 sales fall 6.8%, but automaker ends with strong fourth quarter

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Ford vehicles are seen on the sales lot at the Helfman Ford dealership on October 28, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

DETROIT – Ford Motor’s sales last year declined 6.8% compared to 2020, but the automaker said it made strides toward the end of the year in overcoming disruptions caused by an ongoing semiconductor chip shortage.

The Detroit automaker on Wednesday said it sold 508,451 vehicles in the fourth quarter, a 27% increase over the previous quarter — far better than the industry’s decline of about 3% during that period.

Inventory jumped in December to 247,000 vehicles, up 22,000 from November, a turnaround from earlier in the year caused by the chip shortage.

‘Turbulent and dynamic’ year

Andrew Frick, vice president of Ford sales in the U.S. and Canada, described 2021 as “turbulent and dynamic” during a call with reporters. He said the company was “pleased” with Ford’s finish for the year.

Overall, the U.S. automotive industry sold 15.1 million vehicles in 2021 despite major supply chain disruptions and the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to industry tracker Autodata. It was the weakest sales year since 2012.

Ford sold 1.9 million vehicles, down 6.8% from 2020. That maintained its third-place U.S. sales position behind General Motors and Toyota Motor, which dethroned GM in U.S. sales after a 90-year run as the No. 1 American automaker.

EV sales progress

Ford also beat out GM to become the country’s second best-selling automaker of all-electric vehicles behind Tesla.

Ford sold 27,140 of its Mustang Mach-E EVs, eclipsing the 24,828 sales total of GM’s Chevrolet Bolt EV models at 24,828 units and one Hummer EV in 2021. Both are minuscule compared with Tesla, which doesn’t report U.S. sales, but said it delivered a record 936,172 EVs globally last year.

GM also had to largely stop producing Bolt EVs due to a recall of the vehicle’s batteries that could cause a fire. Nevertheless, Ford’s Frick said the automaker is determined to outsell GM in EVs in 2022.

“That’s our aspiration to become the clear No. 2 electric vehicle maker in the next couple years,” he said, citing increased production of the Mustang Mach-E and the launch of electric versions of the F-150 pickup and Transit van. “That obviously just puts us in a much better position” to do so.

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