While most automakers rejoiced at the release of the December, fourth-quarter and full-year sales results for 2023, Ford and Stellantis didn’t enjoy it quite as much when they revealed their numbers.
Ford eked out a sales increase in the fourth quarter during the strike by the United Auto Workers, but Stellantis slipped by 1% during strike, according to year sales reports, as Mazda rolled up big gains.
Tough year for Ford, but EV sales climb.
“In a year of challenges, from a labor strike to supply issues, our amazing lineup of gas, electric and hybrid vehicles and our fantastic dealers delivered solid growth and momentum. We have the products that customers want,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO.
Ford reported the company’s sales increased 7.1% over 2022 and the best since 2020 and posted a 0.8% increase for the fourth quarter despite the strike by the United Auto Workers. Ford F-Series was America’s bestselling truck for the 47th year in a row and America’s bestselling vehicle for the 42nd year in a row.
Farley also claimed Ford trailed only Tesla in the sales of electric vehicles having as EV sales increased 18% to 72,608 vehicles for the year. But General Motors claimed it sold 75,883 EVs in 2023. Ford, however, also sold more than 133,000 electrified hybrid vehicles, while GM did not sell any hybrids. Toyota, however, sold 657,217 hybrids in 2023, but 9,329 battery Toyota BZ4Xs
For the year, Ford hybrid vehicle sales were up 25% on record annual sales. Ford has both the first and second bestselling hybrid trucks in America, with Maverick Hybrid sales totaling 52,361 trucks, a 67% gain and more than half of Maverick’s total sales in 2023. The F-150 Hybrid posted sales gains of 41% over a year ago on 2023 sales of 50,103.
In brand sales, however, Toyota beat out Ford, selling 1,928,228 cars, trucks and SUVs, while Ford, which has all but given up selling passenger cars, sold a total 1,914,094 Ford branded vehicles.
Jeep falters at Stellantis
Meanwhile, Stellantis sales in the United slipped under the weight of the strike and the resulting downturn had other consequences as the automaker confirmed it was withdrawing from auto shows across the country, including next month’s big show in Chicago. Previously, Stellantis had withdrawn from the LA Auto Show in November and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month.
FCA US LLC, the legal name Stellantis use for U.S. operations, reported sales of 343,552 vehicles in the fourth quarter and 1,527,090 vehicles for the full 2023 calendar year. Overall, fourth-quarter U.S. sales declined 1% while full-year results decreased 1%. Total U.S. sales within the company’s commercial fleet channel increased 20% versus 2022, notching its best year ever.
“Our sales momentum continues to grow as we head into 2024,” said U.S. Head of Sales Jeff Kommor. “Our electrified offerings, which included the launch of Dodge Hornet R/T and Alfa Romeo Tonale in 2023, will continue to expand with our first BEVs introduced to the North America market this year, including the Jeep Recon, Fiat 500e, Wagoneer S, Dodge Charger Daytona and the Ram 1500 REV.”
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The company’s total PHEV U.S. sales increased 124% year over year and 118% in the fourth quarter versus last year, he added, and FCA now takes the 1-2-3 spots among best-selling plug-in hybrids in the U.S. Stellantis is setting the course for 50% passenger-car and light-duty truck battery-electric vehicles (BEV) sales mix in the United States by the end of this decade.
Mazda North American Operations reported total December sales of 39,518 vehicles, an increase of 44.8% compared to December 2022. Full-year sales totaled 363,354 vehicles; an increase of 23.2% compared to 2022. With 26 selling days in December, compared to 27 the year prior, the company posted an increase of 50.4% on a Daily Selling Rate basis.
While sales slipped slightly in the fourth quarter, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. held stead the year and accelerated into 2024, today reporting fourth-quarter 2023 sales of 19,604 and full-year sales of 87,340. In a year when vehicle availability continued to be a challenge, MMNA ended 2023 up 1.8% over 2022.
Additionally, sales performance capped a year in which MMNA and its dealer partners ranked number-one among mass market brands in the annual J.D. Power Customer Service Index (CSI) survey and took top honors in Reputation’s Customer Experience rankings as part of their 2023 Automotive Report.
The pace of light-vehicle sales is expected to continue to recover from the 15.5-million-unit pace in October, when the UAW strike was at its peak, to 16.2 million in the second half of 2024, according to economists at the University of Michigan. The predicted slow pace will be driven in part by high vehicle loan interest rates. With falling interest rates expected during 2024, the forecast calls for vehicle sales to reach 16.5 million in 2025, the analysis by UM’s Research Seminar in Qualitative Economics.