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Overseas Demand Boosts Ford Mustang as Domestic Sales Wane

2016 Ford Mustang GT

The Ford Mustang, a nameplate actually deserving of the word “iconic,” is no less vulnerable to the whims of the market than any other model. As domestic light vehicle demand in North America cools off, so have Mustang sales.

Fortunately for Ford, the automaker took it upon itself to fling Mustangs to every corner of the world for its most recent generation, and buyers in 140 countries are now able to take delivery of the original pony car. That volume, while not America-like, has bolstered sales.

In the U.S., 2017 haven’t yet seen a month where Mustang sales surpassed that of the previous year. In 2016, the 105,916 domestically sold Mustangs represented a climb-down from the year before, when over 122,000 units left the lot. A slip, but still better than the remainder of the post-recession era.

The Chevrolet Camaro topped Mustang in U.S. sales last month, eking out a slim 674-unit lead in April.

Because the model went global in early 2015, domestic sales don’t tell the whole story. Europe and China represent the largest overseas demand for Mustang, and the greatest potential for sales growth. According to IHS Markit data, European customers bought 15,335 Mustangs in 2016, the model’s first full year of sales. Another 5,300 were sold in the first four months of this year.

In a region where customers face punitive taxes on anything remotely considered a gas guzzler — and where diesel power is still a going concern — Mustang has become the best-selling “sports car” in nine countries: France, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Greece and the U.K.

It remains to be seen whether Ford can keep up its European sales growth, or whether the dismal score awarded to the model after Euro NCAP crash tests (two out of five stars) prompts buyers to look elsewhere. Year-to-date sales in the region are trailing 2016 figures by 800 units. The April shortfall amounts to 300 units.

In China, Ford remains locked in battle with rival General Motors, mainly via both companies’ popular crossovers, SUVs and luxury sedans. While Mustang sales rose 74 percent in 2016, headwinds exist. In addition to the steep price markup in the Chinese market (a 5.o-liter model costs about the equivalent of $100,000), GM will launch its Camaro this year in the People’s Republic.

[Source: Wards Auto] [Image: Ford Motor Company]

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