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Ford's Europe Sales Fell 33% in the First Quarter Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

By John Rosevear – Apr 17, 2020 at 2:01PM

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The automaker's commercial vehicles did well under the circumstances; its SUVs, not so much.

Ford Motor (F -2.35%) said that its sales in Europe fell 33% in the first quarter, after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered many of its factories and dealers in the region. 

Ford sold just over 241,000 vehicles in the 20 European countries that account for most of its sales in the region, it said, down 33.1% from a year ago. Ford's aggregate share of the market in those 20 countries was 6.9%, down from 7.6% in the first quarter of 2019. 

Overall registrations of new passenger cars in the European Union, a rough proxy for sales in the region, fell 25.6% in Q1 2020, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. 

Ford was in the midst of a product-line overhaul in Europe before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley has moved to boost sales of its profitable commercial vehicles, a longtime company strength, while de-emphasizing the less-profitable small passenger cars that have long made up the majority of the Blue Oval's sales in Europe. 

Ford said that its share of Europe's commercial-vehicle market rose to 15% in the first quarter from 14.6% in the first quarter of 2019. Sales of commercial vehicles, mostly variants of Ford's Transit vans, were down 21% with almost 81,000 sold. 

An orange Ford Transit Custom, a smallish commercial van.

The short-wheelbase Transit Custom is one of several commercial vans that Ford offers in Europe. Image source: Ford Motor.

Overall sales of Ford's passenger vehicles fell 38% from a year ago, with steep declines for some of the company's SUVs. Sales of its two best-sellers, the small Fiesta and compact Focus, were down 32.4% and 22.7%, respectively. 

Ford didn't begin closing its factories in Europe until March 19. But consumers in some regions had been under stay-at-home orders for some time, and sales had been slipping, before Ford's plants were idled.

Ford said on April 3 that it expects its factories in Europe to stay closed at least through May 4.

John Rosevear owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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