Ford's first-quarter sales fell 1.6% from a year earlier, but sales of trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles grew, the company said Thursday.
A 24.1% decline in sales of ever less-popular passenger cars dragged down what was otherwise a positive quarter for the nation's second-largest automaker.
Ford's premium Lincoln brand grew sales 11.2%, making it Lincoln's best first quarter in ten years. Ford brand SUV sales set a first-quarter record.
It's more evidence that vehicle sales in the world's second-largest auto market are sliding from the record levels they had achieved in the years following the financial crisis.
U.S. retail auto sales, which exclude sales to rental car companies and other commercial businesses, are expected to drop by about 5%during the first quarter, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
While sales volumes are softening, especially for cheaper cars, customers are still paying remarkably high prices for cars, said Thomas King, senior vice president of J.D. Power's data and analytics division. Prices are hitting monthly records while overall retail sales of vehicles that cost under $25,000 are expected to fall 12% in the U.S. in the quarter, more than double the overall decline.
That rang true for Ford, which saw demand for its more expensive trucks and SUVs tick up during the quarter. Sales of Ford's pickup trucks, vans and SUVs, including Lincoln SUVs, made up 83% of the company's total vehicle sales during the quarter.
Pickups alone, led by its popular F-150 line, accounted for almost half of Ford's total volume with the average sales price of $47,454, the company said.
"Customers continue to choose high series and the latest technologies," Ford said.
Ford truck and SUV sales rose 4% and 3.5%, respectively, while Lincoln SUV sales jumped by 23.2%.