Ford Sees U.S. January Sales Dropping 20%

Ford Motor's U.S. sales will likely fall 20% in January due to lower fleet sales, the automaker's sales analyst said on Wednesday.

At a briefing for Ford's 2007 sales outlook, George Pipas told reporters the automaker's U.S. January fleet sales would fall 40%, driven by a 60% decline in daily rental sales.

"This is not going to be the biggest decline in fleet sales," Pipas said, adding that there would be double-digitdeclines in fleet sales every month.

Pipas also said he expected Ford's fleet sales to be "just north of 700,000" in 2007, down from 900,000 units a year earlier.

Ford's announcement came just a day before automakers are expected to report U.S. January sales.

General Motors also said last week it will cut its daily rental sales by 120,000 units in the first half of 2007, with the bulk of the reduction in January.

The cuts are part of an effort to move away from low-margin sales as U.S. automakers try to recover from billions of dollars in losses and shrinking market share.

"Our aim is to stabilize our retail market share," Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, told reporters at the briefing.