Compared to sales in the first quarter of 2018, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) sold 23,700 fewer vehicles in the first quarter of this year. The 6.2% decline was considerably below the 2.2% drop for the auto industry as a whole in the 20 countries that Ford considers its traditional European markets. Ford’s first-quarter sales totaled 359,400 vehicles in its Euro 20 countries.
Last Friday the company reported a first-quarter sales drop of 35.8% in China compared to the same period a year ago. The company said that the government’s decision to hold tariffs on automobiles imported into China at existing rates contributed to reduced MSRPs on some models and led to special incentives, financing programs, and after-sales services for Chinese consumers. Ford sold 136,279 vehicles in China during the first quarter.
In Europe, the company’s commercial vehicles increased its market-leading share to 14.5% with sales of 102,400 units, the most since 1993. Market share in five key European markets–the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, and Spain–was flat year over year at 7.9%.
European sales of the subcompact Ecosport SUV rose 34.8% year over year in the first quarter to 31,700 vehicles. Sales of the best-selling Focus subcompact passenger car totaled 66,900, up by 7,000 units year over year. Fiesta remains Ford’s second-best-selling vehicle in its Euro 20 market with sales of 65,200 units, but that is down by 20,500 units year over year.
In China, sales Ford-branded vehicles dropped 48.4% in the quarter while Lincoln-brand sales fell 23.9% year over year. Ford’s joint venture with Jiangling Motor Corp. saw a sales drop of 5% year over year. The company launched its all-new Territory SUV in January and is expecting to have a full battery-electric version of the vehicle in showrooms later this year.
Ford’s U.S. first-quarter sales fell by 1.6% year over year to 590,249 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with first-quarter 2018 sales of 599,581. Worldwide, Ford’s sales totaled 1.09 million units in the first quarter of 2019.