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Ford Outsells GM In Government Fleet Sales For 2010

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On: Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 12:41PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Outsells GM In Government Fleet Sales For 2010

For the first time in years, Ford outsold GM in the number of automobiles purchased by the U.S. government in 2010. Interestingly, even though the U.S. government has a major interest in General Motors, the automotive company that some call “Government Motors”, it selected more Ford cars and trucks to provide for its fleet car use than from GM,

Ford wasn’t all that far behind GM in previous years, but this year the marketplace has shifted in Ford’s favor. While a number of reasons are responsible for Ford's success, it seems that customer confidence in the Blue Oval may be one of the biggest factors.

The Obama administration has favored Ford Motor Company over GM hands down in purchasing 21,980 vehicles from Ford’s Dearborn automotive plant in 2010. By contrast, the U.S. government purchased only around 540 vehicles from General Motors Co., according to the U.S. General Services Administration. Chrysler Group LLC only sold 13,063 vehicles used for the federal fleet cars.

Ford’s success ocurred during Barrack Obama’s presidency after the government bailout that loaned $85 billion to GM and Chrysler last year.

“There was a paranoia that the government was going to buy GM and Chrysler models to help them out because they had a foot in the door,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at IHS Automotive in Lexington, Massachusetts. “There was a definite concern for Ford.”

The Government Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for purchasing about 24% of all the hybrids produced by U.S. automakers, which was a major contributing factor in Ford Motor Company’s gain over other automakers’ hybrid sales, including GM’s Volt. Since 2008 Ford is on record for selling over 11,000 hybrids to the U.S. as compared to General Motors sales units of a little over 3,000 Malibu Hybrids. The Malibu Hybrid was discontinued in 2009.

“The GSA alternative-fuel vehicle guidelines emphasize higher fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gases,” Mike Moran, a Ford spokesman in Washington, said.

Ford reported a 20% sales increase in November at two times the industry’s rate this year. This will be the second year in a row that Ford will have the highest sales in the U.S. market.

Ford also picked up additional government sales of Fusion sedans, Ranger pickups, and Explorer SUVs in fiscal 2010. Chrysler’s Dodge Caravan minivan was the most popular government purchase from that automaker.

The most popular model purchased by the government over the past several years was the Chevrolet Impala. The Chevy Tahoe SUV is fourth, and Ford’s bestselling F-150 was the fifth best seller. The F-Series line of trucks had the highest volume for a group.

“We work through the GSA process to deliver the right vehicles for the right job,” said Greg Martin, a GM spokesman in Washington. “We expect other automakers do the same.”

The shift from GM to Ford isn’t part of a specific government initiative, Merriam said.

“Industry response is a component of this,” Merriam said. “They have to bid to be considered and ultimately to be selected. Maybe Ford was the most active and aggressive.”

The GSA paid an average of $22,672 per vehicle over the past three years. The average price paid by consumers was $28,508, according to Edmunds.com.

“We really don’t want to compete with a state-owned enterprise,” Ford said. “Frankly, that’s probably not in anybody’s best interest, including the government's.”

According to Jeff Green, who has a background in government contract law: “It would be difficult for the government to show preference for an automaker, even one it owned, because of the structure of the U.S. bureaucracy. The government is so disaggregated that it would be hard to favor one company over another. I would have been really surprised if someone were able to game the system.”

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