Ford Mustang is world’s best-selling sports coupe, again

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Ford is marking National Mustang Day by announcing that its flagship is the world’s top-selling sports coupe for the third straight year, and the blue oval announced it will enter the venerable nameplate in the NASCAR’s top stock-car racing series, replacing the Fusion.

Global registrations of the Mustang in 2017 totaled 125,809 cars, based on Ford’s analysis of new light-vehicle registration data from IHS Markit, which is compiled from government and other sources and captures 95 percent of global new vehicle volumes in more than 80 countries. About two-thirds of the Mustangs — 81,866 — were registered in the U.S., meaning the remaining 43,943 were in export markets, including 7,125 in China alone. The numbers appear to be down from 2016, when Ford said it sold more than 150,000 Mustangs globally.

By way of comparison, GM said it sold 67,940 Chevrolet Camaros in the U.S. in 2017, down 6.6 percent from 2016. U.S. sales during the first quarter of this year were off 22.9 percent from the same period in 2017. GM sold 1,592 Camaros in Europe, according to GM also exports the muscle car to China, Mexico, the Middle East, South Korea and South America but only reports global sales by region and brand.

Meanwhile the Dodge Challenger, another key Mustang competitor, sold 64,537 units in the U.S. last year, up slightly from 2016. Its first-quarter U.S. sales in 2018 were up 12 percent over the same period in 2017, according to figures. The Challenger isn’t sold through dealers in Europe or China.

Ford began exporting the Mustang to global markets for the first time in 2015 and has since sold 418,000 Mustangs around the world. The iconic pony car is now available in 146 countries, having added six countries last year including Brazil and the Ivory Coast.

Globally, the most popular configuration is the Mustang GT fitted with the 5.0-liter V8, which makes 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Ford also says it’s seen a 10 percent increase in the number of women shelling out for the sports car over the past five years.

Ford restyled the Mustang for 2018, with a redesigned front end including new grille and reshaped LED headlights, more plush interior materials, upgraded suspension and three new colors. It dropped the V6, and it made a new 10-speed automatic transmission, called the 10R and co-developed with rival GM, available for both the V8 and 2.3-liter EcoBoost engines.

Separately, Ford said it will bring the Mustang to the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series for the first time, beginning at Daytona in February 2019. It will be Ford’s fourth different Cup model in NASCAR’s modern era, following the Thunderbird, Taurus and Fusion. Ford has raced the Mustang in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2011 and won championships in all but one season.

“Mustang always has been about affordable performance, which can be traced to innovations we’ve made competing in racing, like NASCAR. Mustang is a perfect fit for our racing heritage today and tomorrow,” Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, said in a statement.

Overall, Ford has six organizations and 13 teams competing in NASCAR.

And this being National Mustang Day (who knew?), we would be remiss if we failed to mention the big news Down Under that Ford will return to Supercars racing, replacing the FG X Falcon, and once again taking on the GM-derived Holden ZB Commodore. DJR Team Penske and Pickford Racing will race in 2018 Mustangs developed by Ford Performance.