The numbers have not yet been finalized, but the advanced sales figures for 2013 released by Ford (NYSE:F) on Monday show that CEO Alan Mulally’s efforts to narrow the focus of the Detroit automaker have been successful. A little more than four years have passed since the American automotive industry was wracked by two government-backed bankruptcies and Ford’s self-financed restructuring, but car sales have soared this year, with demand for new vehicles driven by historically low interest rates and pent-up need. More importantly for Ford — as well as General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Fiat-owned (FIATY.PK) Chrysler — the new competitiveness of compact and family cars have convinced consumers of the quality of U.S.-manufactured automobiles.
A press release detailing Ford’s 2013 United States results highlighted the extent of the company’s growth this year: Retail market share improved and sales growth held strong across the automaker’s multiple segments. Ford not only had its best retail sales performance in the U.S. in six years, but the company expects 2013 to have produced one of the best full-year results in its history, with “strong revenue growth, market share in all regions improved or equal to last year … and a stronger balance sheet.”
“We are celebrating what we expect to be an outstanding 2013, one that is likely to be among the best in our history,” Bob Shanks, Ford’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a press release dated December 14. As the announcement suggests, the company had several outstanding quarters this year, and North American operations have been essential to the company’s financial performance. In the first quarter, Ford recorded what was at the time a record quarter, thanks in a large part to the $2.4 billion in pretax profit that the company’s North American operations generated. In fact, Ford earned all but $6 million of its $35.8 billion in revenue in North America.
While global conditions improved during the second quarter, Ford’s sales in North America continued to carry the company. However, for the first time in more than two years, Ford finally posted a profit outside North America last quarter. Still, that region is hugely important to the automaker’s financials, and the company’s strong performance in the United States this year has much to do with the optimism the company has expressed regarding its full-year results.
Here are three ways Ford was successful in 2013.