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Ford trails F-Series sales goal

Ford Division's new president picked the nation's largest commercial truck outlet as the stage to reiterate a Texas-sized sales goal, even as it trails the target by an estimated 50,000 units.

Darryl Hazel, who was president of Lincoln Mercury Div. prior to his current post, says Ford is shooting to reach 900,000 F-Series deliveries in 2005, following a record year in 2004, when it sold 939,511.

“We're a little behind,” Hazel admits during a media event at the Ford Grande Truck Center here. Through the end of May, he says internal data suggests Ford will sell 850,000 F-Series this year when adjusted for seasonal trends.

Through the first five months, 335,267 F-Series have been delivered vs. 358,034 in like-2004, representing a 6% decline, according to Ward's data.

Hazel points to a sluggish January and February, with just 49,319 and 59,562 deliveries, respectively, as reason for the sluggish pace.

Ford saw enormous payback during the first two months, following a December in which 95,392 F-Series were sold on the back of generous rebates.

F-Series incentives may move upward later in the year to quicken the sales pace, Hazel says. While he does not give marketing details, he does admit, “we have to pick it up a bit.”

Although sales are trending upward, if the 3-month period spanning March through May is any indication, Ford's chances of hitting its goal are nil without a change in buyer behavior or increased spiffs.

Even with increased momentum, the average number of units sold on a monthly basis so far has been 75,462, falling behind 76,356 in like-2004 by 1%, Ward's data shows. The push to reach 900,000 units comes as Ford struggles to maintain at least a facet of leadership in the U.S. truck market.

“We intend to stay dominant in the truck business,” says Hazel. If Ford does hit its target in 2005, he says it will mark the first time in modern history an auto maker has sold 900,000 units of any vehicle in back-to-back years.

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