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6 Ford Trends for Dealers to Watch in 2024

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Last year was a good one for Ford: It sold about 2 million vehicles, and more than half of those were trucks and vans. The F-Series has been the best-selling line of trucks in the U.S. for nearly 50 years, and in 2023 sales increased 14.8%. Still, Ford hasn’t been immune to auto trends like workers’ strikes, high interest rates and a return to a buyers’ market. So what’s in store for Ford retailers in 2024? Here are the top 6 Ford trends you need to watch.

Ford may have sold millions of cars in 2023, but sales were still lower than the overall automotive industry. That gives the impression Fords aren’t flying off the shelves and leaves customers wondering, “Is there an oversupply of cars? And will cars be cheaper in 2024?” While it’s tough to predict how much car prices will drop in 2024, analysts agree that we’ll return to a buyer’s market. Supply chains are normalizing, inventory is growing and there’s less pent-up demand, all of which point to lower prices this year.

Ford’s Chief Financial Officer, John Lawler, has come right out and said consumers can expect smaller dealer markups this year – a clear signal to dealerships that their margins may take a hit. Dealers will also be grappling with the question “When will vehicle interest rates go down?” As long as rates remain high, low prices and increased incentives will be essential to draw in customers and convert leads to sales.

Ford Trend 2: Slowing EV Production

While automotive retail trends over the past few years have pointed to increasing demand for electric vehicles (EVs), there are signs that demand is flattening. According to Kiplinger, EVs are likely to account for 9% of total U.S. auto sales in 2024, up only 1% from 2023. There may even be an oversupply of cars in the EV market, which is why many brands, including Ford, are actually scaling back their EV production in 2024.

That’s not to say the EV is dead. Ford’s EVs were one of its automotive highlights in 2024: sales increased nearly 18%, and the all-electric F-150 Lightning was the number-one selling electric truck. But sales were still slower than expected, and the company expects an increase in competition. In response, Ford is making moves to cut production at its new Marshall battery plant in Michigan by up to 40% and is pausing development of its Kentucky plant entirely.

Ford Trend 3: Improved EV Charging Infrastructure

In this year’s Ford survey, only 4% of U.S. respondents said they drove EVs – yet 38% said people “should” drive EVs. So what’s holding consumers back from going all-in on EVs? One common answer is concern about a lack of vehicle charging options. While demand is rising, the fact remains that many charging stations are concentrated around coastal cities. Ford is one of the only manufacturers succeeding in changing that.

Ford’s BlueOval Charging Network is already the nation’s largest public charging network with over 10,000 chargers. Ford retailers have been adding public fast chargers on their lots, and in 2024, Ford EVs will be able to use more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada. By developing its charging infrastructure, Ford is alleviating customers’ charging fears and taking the lead in a competitive EV market.

Ford Trend 4: Increased Hybrid Popularity

While EV sales could be flatlining, hybrids are still in high demand. The Kiplinger report predicts hybrids to make up 14% of U.S. auto sales in 2024, up from 9% in 2023. Hybrids are an ideal compromise for many consumers: They don’t require special charging stations, drive similarly to gas-powered vehicles and still offer the fuel savings they crave.

Ford customers are typically looking for heavy-duty capabilities along with fuel savings. In 2024, Ford’s sales of hybrid vehicles rose more than 25%, including a jump of 41% for the F-150 Hybrid and 67% for the new Maverick Hybrid. The Maverick has been a surprise success: It sold out in 2023 and is expected to be in short supply for 2024. Ford retailers should ensure they have hybrid inventory that can keep up with this trend in the auto industry.

Ford’s hybrid models aren’t all in high demand: In fact, Ford is discontinuing its Explorer Hybrid starting in 2024 to make room for the Maverick and its fully-electric models. That isn’t the only car on the chopping block. Ford is also discontinuing the fun, affordable Fiesta, and not for lack of popularity. In fact, the Fiesta sells well – but small models typically mean smaller margins. The shift to higher-margin trucks and SUVs, as well as hybrids and EVs, will be a top Ford auto trend for years to come.

Ford is also phasing out two more popular models: The Edge, a mid-size SUV introduced in 2007, and the Transit Connect, a commercial cargo van. Like many recent trends, automotive industry shifts toward EVs play a role. The plant that produced the Edge will instead produce EVs, beginning in a few years. And the Transit Connect simply doesn’t reflect Ford’s renewed focus on its more profitable vehicles.

Ford Trend 6: More FordDirect Partnerships

The FordDirect platform, which connects dealerships with tools and data, has been around for years. It offers solutions for marketing, sales and service, including customer relationship management (CRM), customer service and digital advertising. FordDirect vendors are vetted and pre-approved, with co-op eligibility and direct billing in most cases.

In early 2024, FordDirect announced an even more exciting development with the launch of The Shop, a curated e-commerce platform. The Shop will expand FordDirect’s partnerships to a number of new vendors, including Better Car People. Dealerships who partner with The Shop vendors will enjoy pre-negotiated pricing, streamlined onboarding and customer support.

Make the Most of Increased Auto Market Demand

At Better Car People, we’re excited to take our relationships with Ford and Lincoln retailers to the next level through The Shop. Our business development center (BDC) platform provides 24/7/365 lead response, automatic follow-up for connected car alerts and appointment scheduling and reminders.

It’s going to be a buyers’ market this year, and we can help you be prepared. Book a meeting to learn more about how we can supplement your sales team and help you make the most of the latest Ford trends.

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