Ford making inroads against Toyota

Ford, striving to compete in a domestic green vehicle market long dominated by Toyota and its Prius, seems to be making some in-roads against the Japanese automaker in the short time it has been making hybrids.

The company said it recently achieved all time hybrid market share while also seeing record sales of its Fusion Hybrid.

The Fusion Hybrid and C-Max hybrids, according to Ford, led the company to have in December a 9 percent market share gain to 16 percent. Toyota is said to have dropped during that time, falling 8 points from 68 percent to 60 percent. While it is an important drop from Ford’s viewpoint, it shows as well that Toyota continues to have a strong hybrid presence and something which will take Ford time to continue pecking away at.

Looking at specific numbers from Ford, it “sold more hybrids in the fourth quarter of 2012 than in any other three-month period in the company’s entire history with 19,554 units sold, besting its own previous hybrid vehicle sales record by more than 193 percent.” The Fusion Hybrid alone during December had 3,244 cars moved, and it is expected to have record sales form last month when results are announced tomorrow.

When one thinks of a mid-size sedan like the Fusion Hybrid, you don’t necessarily expect it to appeal as much to younger drivers. Not entirely so, noted Ford, as its data reporting finds buyers are five years younger than buyers of the previous Fusion Hybrid, dropping to 48 years old from an average of 53 years old.

The company has also found the Fusion Hybrid’s best selling markets include San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., though the car is also doing well in areas like the Central, Southeast and Great Lakes regions. Though these areas are not traditionally known as strong green car markets, perhaps the American moniker of Ford is helping to drive what is said to be retail sales which have more than tripled in December compared to a year ago.

“We’re bringing new hybrid buyers into the market, many of whom wouldn’t be considered traditional hybrid buyers,” said Amy Marentic, marketing manager, Global Small and Medium Cars, in a statement. “There’s a sense hybrid buyers represent a pragmatic or green ethic. Fusion Hybrid is scoring with these audiences, but the car also puts some excitement into the segment through design; it shows hybrids can have beautiful and sophisticated styling. This, in turn, means different buyers.”

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling