Ford Expects Auto Sales To Stay Flat, And That Is A Good Thing – Forbes

Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2017

NEW ORLEANS Ford dealers and Ford executives sounded a typically optimistic note at this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association convention here, based on record U.S. auto sales in 2016 and growing confidence that even if auto sales decline a bit in 2017, they won’t decline much.

“You can’t get upset at a 17-million-plus SAAR,” said Bill Jarrett, chairman of the Ford National Dealer Council, following Ford’s annual “make meeting” between hundreds of Ford dealers and top Ford executives. Jarrett Automotive Group includes five central Florida dealerships with Ford and Lincoln franchises.

Stephen Odell, Ford executive vice president; Photo: Ford

Stephen Odell, Ford executive vice president; Photo: Ford

SAAR stands for Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, an estimate of what sales would be for the entire year, based on one month’s worth of sales. U.S. auto sales were a record 17.5 million in 2016, an increase of less than 1 percent from 2015, according to Autodata Corp.

Jarrett said dealers are concerned about a drop in car sales as opposed to trucks, but all in all he said dealers are happy with Ford’s current product lineup. “We do have concerns about car models  as the whole industry does as to what the public wants.”

Forecasts for 2017 call for a small decline in auto sales. The same was true for 2016, but 2016 auto sales beat expectations and the record set in 2015 – just barely – due in part to a high level of discounting.

Stephen Odell, Ford executive vice president, global marketing, sales and service, said Ford believes the present high level of sales has got legs.

“To be determined is whether the industry is headed into a plateau. There’s a growing consensus that the industry could run at this level for some time,” Odell said in a quick interview following the Jan. 28 meeting. “If that’s a plateau, then I like the view.”

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