On Monday, Ford revealed that its sales of new vehicles in the U.S. declined by 17% during the first quarter, including a 26% slide this past March, as it continues to battle a global shortage of semiconductor chips. The company reported a total first-quarter sales figure of 432,132 vehicles, including 159,328 units in March. Those figures were in line with analyst expectations.
Despite the decline, Andrew Frick, Ford’s Vice President of sales, distribution, and trucks, said the company experienced some positive signs heading into the spring selling season.
“While the global semiconductor chip shortage continues to create challenges, we saw improvement in March sales, as in-transit inventory improved 74% over February. F-Series had a record 50,000 new retail orders in March, while a record 41% of our overall retail sales came from previously placed retail orders,” said Frick in a statement.
Sales of Ford’s trucks were off 23% during the first quarter. Car sales were down 49%, while SUV sales were off just 5.1%. Still, Ford touted demand for its newest vehicles, such as the Bronco and Bronco Sport SUVs and the Maverick small pickup truck. March Maverick sales increased 115% from February, with the average vehicle selling off a dealer lot just four days after arrival.
Sales of Ford’s highly profitable F-Series pickups, including the F-150 and its larger siblings, were also down 31% during the first quarter, including a 47% decline in March. On improved inventory, Ford said its SUV sales increased 39% compared with February.
Automakers like Ford have been dealing with the global semiconductor shortage for almost a year now, and are still having to sporadically shut down plants to maintain enough parts in inventory. As a result, they can’t produce enough new vehicles to meet the demand, which has left many car buyers to shop the used car market instead.