Ford’s 2021 sales fall 6.8%, but automaker ends year with strong fourth quarter

Ford vehicles are seen on the sales lot at the Helfman Ford dealership on October 28, 2021 in Houston, Texas.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

DETROIT – Ford Motor’s sales last year declined 6.8% compared to 2020, but the automaker said it made strides toward the end of the year in overcoming disruptions caused by an ongoing semiconductor chip shortage.

The Detroit automaker on Wednesday said it sold 508,451 vehicles in the fourth quarter, a 26.8% increase over the third quarter and better than the overall industry’s decline of about 3% from the previous three months.

Ford ended last year with 247,000 vehicles in stock, up 22,000 units from November after the chip shortage caused historically low inventory levels earlier in the year.

‘Turbulent and dynamic’ year

Andrew Frick, vice president of Ford sales in the U.S. and Canada, described 2021 as “turbulent and dynamic” during a call with reporters Wednesday. He said the company was “pleased” with Ford’s finish for the year.

Overall, the U.S. automotive industry sold 15.1 million vehicles in 2021 despite major supply chain disruptions and lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, according to industry data company Autodata. It was the weakest sales year since 2012.

Ford sold 1.9 million vehicles in 2021, down 6.8% compared with the prior year. That maintained its third-place U.S. sales position behind General Motors and Toyota Motor, which dethroned GM in U.S. sales after a 90-year run as the No. 1 American automaker.

EV sales

Ford also beat out GM to become the country’s second best-selling automaker of all-electric vehicles, only behind Tesla.

Ford sold 27,140 of its Mustang Mach-E EVs, besting sales of GM’s Chevrolet Bolt EV models at 24,828 units and one Hummer EV in 2021. Both are miniscule compared with Tesla, which doesn’t report U.S. sales, but said it delivered a record 936,172 EVs globally last year.

GM also had to largely stop producing Bolt EVs due to a recall of the vehicle’s batteries that could cause a fire. Despite that, Ford’s Frick said it intends to outsell GM in EVs in 2022.

“That’s our aspiration to become the clear No. 2 electric vehicle maker in the next couple years,” he said, citing increased production of the Mustang Mach-E and the launch of electric versions of the F-150 pickup and Transit van. “That obviously just puts us in a much better position.”