Ford Motor Co. saw an increase in domestic sales this July over last, a Ford official told CNN Radio on Sunday. It was the first monthly sales gain claimed by a major automaker since the financial crisis began last year.
Ford will release its official U.S. sales figures on Monday. While details were not immediately available, Ken Czubay, the automaker’s U.S. sales and marketing chief, said retail and vehicle sales increased over July of last year. And the government’s new “cash for clunkers” program, which encourages consumers to trade in less fuel-efficient vehicles for new vehicles that get better fuel economy, may have given Ford the boost it needed. “We’ve been looking at our forecasting model, and we thought that as a result of President Obama’s stimulus actions and basically the consumer getting his feet on the ground a little bit more, that in the fall of this year we’d start to see an increase in business,” Czubay said. “In June it was starting to firm up for Ford Motor Co. a little better than our competitors, but in July, in the beginning of the month, it firmed up and then continued to firm up,” Czubay said. “And then, of course, what is known as the ‘cash for clunkers’ program started a week ago last Friday, and frankly there was a very good response on the part of the American consumer.” Dealers have told Ford executives part of the reason for the automaker’s success is that the company did not take federal stimulus money. Czubay, meanwhile, contended Ford is simply offering better products. “They get excellent fuel economy, often times best in class … Frankly the quality is vastly improved,” he said.
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While Ford will be in the spotlight Monday with the release of its July sales figures, other automakers and dealerships are also enjoying benefits from the “cash for clunkers” program, according to John McEleney, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “We’re seeing customers that have never bought a new car before, probably for economic reasons, that now are finding it very affordable to buy a new car with a warranty, so that’s kind of exciting,” he told CNN Radio. “Whether it’s GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda or Mazda, dealers in all segments of the country, almost without exception, are reporting significant sales. I think dealers sold almost as many cars in the last week of the month, in many cases, as they probably sold in the first three weeks of July,” McEleney said.