Most everyone at Ford is grinning from ear-to-ear these days, as the company is enjoying profits as well as a vastly improved product portfolio and public image. Sales are up, the product pipeline is full, and market share grew last year. You can almost imagine Ford CEO Alan Mulally saying, "What, me worry?"

But that's exactly what he should be doing, according to Forbes, which suggests Ford is growing arrogant and its numbers aren't nearly as solid as they appear. For instance, Forbes says Ford was also right up there with Toyota and Honda when it came to recalls last year, far outpacing crosstown rivals General Motors and Chrysler. Ford recalled some 3.3 million vehicles in 2011, compared with 773,000 for Chrysler and just 500,000 for GM.

But the real shocker is that Forbes says Ford tops all automakers when it comes to fleet sales. Not only are fleet sales usually less profitable, but they also tend to hurt resale values, meaning that selling 32 percent of its vehicles into fleets last year does not bode well for the Blue Oval or the residual values of its owners. According to the report, the model with the most fleet sales was the new-for-2012 Focus. A staggering 45 percent of Focus models sold last year were to fleets, which isn't good for anyone, save the guy standing in line at the Hertz counter.

Editor's note: Ford contacted us to clarify a few things about its 2011 fleet sales. The first is that rental fleet sales as a percent of total volume was 12 percent, which it claims is a smaller percentage than GM and Chrysler's rental fleet sales. Fleet sales of commercial vehicles, meanwhile, were 14 percent of total sales volume, while government sales were six percent.


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  • 201 Comments
      mapoftazifosho
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shocked and disappointed by this...
      Greg J.
      • 2 Years Ago
      @ Sea Urchin http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2012/01/25/why-ford-needs-to-worry/ Here is a similiar story on Forbes. I can see the same outcome for Ford as American Airlines. As you might remember they were the only ones that didn't file for bankrupcy after 9/11. They went bankrupt couple months ago.
        Luke
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Greg J.
        Duh...this is about THAT story.... And AA has filed bankruptcy SEVERAL times since 9/11.
          Greg J.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Luke
          November 29, 2011 to be exact. And I didnt know ONCE is several?
      jayesix
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not appropriate behavior for a Car and Driver 10 Best recipient. Tsk, tsk, tsk!
      Sheldon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reading through the report on Forbes it doesn't specify what the breakdown of Focus model fleet sells were. Your supposition of "new-for-2012 Focus" may not be correct. There is a good chance lots were the old model. Still 32% of sales to fleets is cause for concern, not alarm though. Someone has to sell to fleets, and if you can do it right without harming your retail sales, why not?
        sstowes
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sheldon
        I was just at the Quantico facility in Virginia for an assignment. As we were leaving the parking lot, there were a ROWS of Ford Focii (?), with various other makes and models dotted in between. At first, I thought "wow, people around here really love the Focus, but I then realized there were far too many to be a coincidence.
      Walt
      • 2 Years Ago
      What are fleets supposed to buy, crappy Toyota's? This is America, and American companies prefer quality, reliability and keeping their dollars working in this country rather than sending them overseas. Bravo Ford!
        404 not found
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Walt
        This post has so much fail I don't know where to begin.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Walt
        [blocked]
      BlackDynamiteOn
      • 2 Years Ago
      WOW! Forbes said over 45% (!) of Ford Focuses sold last year were fleet! I didn't know the Focus redesign was such an epic fail! That's pathetic! PATHETIC! And Ford Fiesta is at 126 days supply? Easily outsold by Chevy Sonic in November and December. After a solid first year, this car is tanking, just like Taurus (Taurus sits at 42% fleet)! BD
        hudkina
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BlackDynamiteOn
        I think that's the problem with trying to sell one model throughout the entire world. People who buy American cars aren't necessarily interested in European designs, especially such polarizing European designs. The Focus is a disaster in the making.
        Joshua Bolden
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BlackDynamiteOn
        lol
      Julius
      • 2 Years Ago
      "45% of Focus models sold last year were to fleets"... wow. That's amazing to me, and not a good indicator of what Ford can do, especially in the face of new competition from a soon-to-be-revised Civic, Jetta, Sonata, and even the Cruze.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        bscmth
        • 2 Years Ago
        Well stated. The odds of having every vehicle report a sales gain for a full-line automaker are next to 0. If you have two vehicles in your lineup the odds of them both being up on the same month or year go up substantially. One can cherry pick any automakers line up and find vehicles that are down. I could do it right now on any sales report.
      scocrmch
      • 2 Years Ago
      Being in the fleet business I can tell you that GM offers the same, if not higher incetives to its customers on comparable vehicles. It just turns out that fleets prefer Ford vehicles over GM and especially Chrysler vehicles.
        :)
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scocrmch
        That is not true... GM limit's fleet model's vs Ford keeps churning out as many as possible!!!!! And yes it hurts the resale greatly, when 1,000's of 1 year old models hit the auctions. GM did this in the past , but has been removed for several years. Now you know why FORD means.... Found On the Road Dead!
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          @:)
          exhibit C) clueless diatribe, GM sells MORE cars to RENTAL Companies than Ford......RENTAL companies dont care WHAT they rent out, they buy the cheapest iterations they can....lots of Dodges of late as well....
          • 2 Years Ago
          @:)
          [blocked]
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scocrmch
        there were HUGE orders put in by Municipalities for Crown Victoria Police Interceptor models as well, because it is going away...didnt read the article because of what the title LOOSELY incinuates, but I bet it didnt touch on THAT subject....
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scocrmch
        I am also in the business scocrmch ( 25 years ), which is making some of the comments , let alone the article, humorous...I wear the vote downs in honor, my predictions of clueless comments was ON the $....HILARIOUS...
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scocrmch
        [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Luke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Everyone gets so scared by the term 'fleet sales.' Don't forget that it doesn't just mean Hertz and Alamo, but also companies. Our company buys more Fords than anything else because they're better built, more reliable, and get us the money we expect when it comes time to sell. At any rate, when you consider recalls, the biggest chunk of that comes from a recall of the airbags in the #1 selling vehicle in the world spanning a couple year production run. That's an easy way to run that number up and hasn't been typical of recent years. Ford will be fine.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Luke
        [blocked]
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          Urchin, please define what you consider a vehicle that constitutes the "Fleet" title....
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          Urchin....teh Border Patrol bought a bunch of Raptors....KILLED their resale apparently....bwahahahaha....
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          so, oh wise one, what will those vehicle sell for....you must know a hell of a lot more than those in the business and have a HUGE crystal ball....
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Luke
        thankyou Luke...some one has at least SOME insight into how broadly the term "Fleet Sales" can be interpreted....and guess what if Ford all of a sudden got away from these types of sales, do you think anyone would go after them????? I for one am absolutely going to watch some ludicrously idiotic comments be posted here.....probably from the same old crew....
          Luke
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          Fleet sales drive themselves. If companies come to you for your vehicles, are YOU going to tell them no? Hell no.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Luke
        [blocked]
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