Ford Makes Gains on Toyota’s Retail Pains

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Though Toyota (NYSE:TM) led the domestic auto industry in retail sales last year, Ford (NYSE:F) is making rapid gains at Toyota’s expense to close in, Bloomberg reports. Driving Ford’s continued push is the Fusion sedan and Escape crossover SUV, both of which experienced tremendous a sales year in 2013. Further, Ford is expected to keep the pressure on for 2014.

Recalls, natural disasters, and stiffer competition have crimped Toyota’s sales dominance over the past six or so years. At the same time, Ford’s Ford One plan has been largely successful in turning Ford’s cumbersome brand into a global force to be reckoned with. The combination of the two factors don’t spell good things for the Japanese manufacturer, which has relied heavily on the sliding yen and heavy incentives to keep the inventories moving.

“Before 2010, Toyota’s image was bulletproof, and while it is still strong, it’s not rock solid and as perfect as it was before,” Tom Libby, an auto analyst for IHS Automotive, told Bloomberg in an interview. “It now appears their march forward has been slowed.”

Toyota’s market share slowed from 16.3 percent in 2008 to 13.5 percent last year, according to Bloomberg’s collection of vehicle registration data. The loss of 2.8 percent was matched by Ford’s gain over the same period. While Toyota’s Camry has long been the stalwart best-selling sedan, its empire is being compromised from all sides, but notably by Ford’s Fusion, Subaru’s Legacy, and Hyundai’s Sonata.

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