The locally made Ford Explorer SUV saw a 23.1% drop in sales in April from a year ago, largely due to semiconductor shortages that have rocked the global auto industry, shutting down the Chicago assembly plant for weeks, cutting shifts and leaving dealer lots half empty.
Overall Ford and Lincoln sales fell 10.5% to 176,965 last month from 197,813 in April 2021.
In April, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker reported a 10.5% drop in retail sales; a 17.8% drop in retail truck sales; a 2.7% increase in SUV retail sales; and a 50.2% increase in electrified retail sales. Ford’s overall truck sales fell 12.3% and overall SUV sales 16.3% last month.
Ford has been phasing out low-margin cars, selling just 4,388 last month, down 57.7% from 10,376 in April 2021. It has changed its strategy to focus on pickups and trucks. More expensive, higher-margin SUVs are fattening its profit margin and is now projecting it will become the second-largest maker of electric vehicles in the United States.
“While industry semiconductor chip shortages persist, improved inventory flow in April generated a significant market share gain of 1 percentage point from a year ago, Ford outperforming the industry,” said Andrew Frick, Vice President, Sales, Distribution and Trucks. “Inventory flow bolstered stronger sales of the F-Series, Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit and Ford-brand SUV’s record sales in April. We are now shipping all models of the F -150 Electric Lightning.
In April, Ford sold 20,801 units of the Explorer, which is manufactured at the southernmost Chicago Assembly Plant near the state line, compared to 27,040 units in the same month in 2021 After semiconductor shortages, related factory shutdowns and just two consecutive shifts, Explorer sales are down 31.2% from the first four months of 2021 with 63,537 units sold and compared to 92,284 during the same period of the previous year.
In 2019, Ford also began manufacturing the Lincoln Aviator at the Chicago Assembly Plant after phasing out the Lincoln MKS and Ford Taurus. Sales of the SUV fell 15.5% to 2,402 units last month from 2,844 in the same period a year earlier. Airmen sales fell 17.5% to 6,086 units sold through the end of April, from 8,930 units in the first four months of 2021.
Ford employs more than 5,810 workers at the Chicago Assembly Plant and another 1,290 at the Chicago Stamping Plant on US 30 in Chicago Heights. They have often been out of work during the pandemic because the factory has been repeatedly idle due to the lack of semiconductors used in rear view cameras, lane assist and other modern features.