By Kalim A. Bhatti for USA TODAY
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
Which Ford car shows the biggest sales gain by far this year? The one that the blue oval brand plans to kill.
It's the Crown Victoria, the last hulking, rear-wheel, body-on-frame sedan out there that's bought almost entirely by police agencies as cruisers, with the hand-me-downs going to taxicab operators. Last month, sales were up an amazing 140.8% compared with August 2010. So far this year, Ford has sold 40,082 of them, up 70.4% over the same time last year.
Only the smallest Ford car, the Fiesta, shows a greater percentage increase in sales in the past year, but it was just getting started as a new model, so it's not a fair comparison.
Asked about what's causing the old Crown Vic, due to stop production at the end of the year, to see such amazing sales, Ford sales analyst George Pipas said the automaker "is getting some replacement volume at the end of the cycle." We translate that to mean that police agencies, loathe to make the change, are snapping up every last Crown Victoria they can before they are forced to switch to an alternative they may not like.
Ford is trying to switch police agencies into a version of its Ford Taurus, but it's front-wheel drive, a feature they may not like. Chevrolet is selling the Caprice, a variation of an old Pontiac, but it's not American made. It is being imported from Australia. And Chrysler makes the fierce-looking Dodge Charger, but some agencies complain that it's too small.
By the way, when Crown Vic goes, so, too, will the Lincoln Town Car -- and many limousine operators are none too happy about that as well.