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Ford’s F-150 truck had a good first month

Bill Ford, Top Ford Executives Hold Press Conference At Dearborn Truck PlantBill Ford, Top Ford Executives Hold Press Conference At Dearborn Truck Plant
New 2015 Ford F-150 trucks go through a quality control inspection on the assembly line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.Photograph by Bill Pugliano — Getty Images

Toward the end of last year, Ford started rolling its new all-aluminum F-150 truck off its production lines.

Building its full-size pickups with aluminum alloy was a big gamble for Ford. The use of the metal had some worried about the strength of the new trucks, and whether they would appeal to conservative, traditional truck buyers.

So the results from January should be some comfort to Ford.

F-Series trucks, which include the F-150, sold 54,370 units last month, up nearly 17% from a year earlier. Within that, 18% of F-150 units sold last month were this year’s model, said Erich Merkle, Ford’s U.S. sales analyst.

Most promising is the news that dealers aren’t keeping trucks on the lot for long periods of time. New F-150s are spending an average of 12 days on the lot, with the higher-end Platinum and King Ranch models moving even quicker, selling after 9 and 10 days respectively. A truck typically stays on a lot for about 70 days before it’s sold.

For now, these sales are about the best Ford (F) can expect, because only it’s Dearborn F-150 plant is up and running — the plant in Kansas City is still changing over to the new truck model. As the shift finishes during the first quarter, Merkle said the company expects to “see overall F-Series [sales] tempered a bit.”

Stephen Brown, an analyst at Fitch Ratings, thinks the quick turnaround numbers are a more telling figure than the overall sales.

“They’re selling them as fast as they can make them,” he said. “I think that shows that there is a certain level of pent-up demand for those vehicles.”