Small SUVs Supplant Big Pickups as Ford’s Top-Selling Models

Ford Motor Co., once a top purveyor of huge sport-utility vehicles, now gets most of its global sales growth from small SUVs such as the Escape and EcoSport, which outsold its F-Series pickups by 2-to-1 in 2013.

“Most people think last year the F-series drove the company’s top line volume growth,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief, referring to the company’s truck line. “But our No. 1 vehicle was the Kuga-Escape and our No. 2 vehicle was the EcoSport. Together they had around a half million unit growth for us,” he told reporters yesterday in a briefing at the automaker’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

While Ford has said its Focus compact car was the best-selling vehicle nameplate globally as recently as the third quarter, the company sold a record 1.2 million SUVs worldwide last year. Much of the SUV growth came in China, where Ford’s market share rose to 5 percent, from 0.3 percent in 2012, Farley said. In the U.S., Ford’s SUV sales rose 9.1 percent last year, less than the market’s 12 percent gain, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Consumers worldwide are embracing small SUVs because they are more fuel efficient and refined than the incredible hulks Ford once sold, Farley said. Ford predicts global SUV sales will soar by 40 percent, or 4 million models, by 2018, as more drivers shift from traditional cars to small SUVs such as the Escape, known as the Kuga outside the U.S., and the subcompact EcoSport, not sold in the U.S.

“What drives our business more and more are these kinds of shifts,” Farley said. “And it’s not just one market, it’s everywhere. It’s going to have a big impact on our business.”

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