By Dave Sebastian 

Ford Motor Co. said its U.S. vehicle sales were off 3.2% in 2019 as falling sport-utility and sedan sales outweighed gains in purchases of trucks, the latest U.S. auto maker to report declining sales.

The No. 2 U.S. auto maker by sales said Monday it sold about 2.41 million vehicles last year, down from around 2.49 million in 2018. For the last three months of 2019, sales were off 1.3% to 598,728 units.

Sales of trucks rose 8.8% to about 1.24 million in 2019 and 16% to 326,941 for the fourth quarter. The company said it sold 153,868 Transit vans last year, up 12% from the prior year.

Car sales fell 28% to 349,091 units for the full year, reflecting Ford's decision to drop nearly all passenger cars from its U.S. lineup. SUV sales were off 4.8% to 830,471 units.

Mustang sales fell 4.4% to 72,489 units. In November, Ford unveiled an all-electric SUV that will be called the Mustang Mach-E and wear the galloping pony logo in a move to spark the auto maker's transition to an electric future.

Ford is relying more on the U.S. market to drive results amid a steep falloff of sales in China. The company is also narrowing its focus in Europe and Latin America, exiting some car categories to focus on truck and van sales.

U.S. vehicle sales rose steadily since the financial crisis a decade ago, when they bottomed out at 10.4 million in 2009. Sales hit a record 17.6 million in 2016 and have bobbed along around the 17-million mark in recent years, providing an unusually steady environment for an industry accustomed to cyclical swings.

General Motors Co. on Friday reported a 2019 sales decline of 2.3%, dented largely by last fall's 40-day United Auto Workers strike that brought more than 30 U.S. factories to a standstill and depleted dealerships' new-vehicle inventories, the company said Friday. The Detroit auto maker said its fourth-quarter sales fell 6% over the prior-year period.

Trade tensions have eased since last year's U.S.-China clash over auto tariffs and an amended North American trade pact remained unsettled. Ford, GM, Volkswagen AG and other auto giants last year embarked on restructurings that included tens of thousands of layoffs and factory closings as earnings came under pressure.

On Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said sales in the U.S. fell 1% last year, while Toyota Motor Corp. reported a nearly 2% decline in U.S. sales. Honda Motor Co. last week reported flat 2019 U.S. sales, while Nissan Motor Co. said sales fell nearly 10%.

Electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc., meanwhile, said deliveries rose 50% in 2019 to 367,500.

The industry faces potential headwinds in the U.S. in 2020. Car dealers grappled with unusually large stockpiles of unsold vehicles for much of last year and struggled to off-load older models, forcing steeper discounts. Auto makers are spending more to lure buyers, potentially heralding weaker demand and slower sales ahead, analysts say. The industry's spending on sales incentives in recent months hovered around 11% of a car's sticker price, the highest level since 2008, according to J.D. Power.

Write to Dave Sebastian at dave.sebastian@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2020 11:13 ET (16:13 GMT)

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