Ford fourth-quarter U.S. sales fall 9.8%

(Reuters) -Ford Motor Corp on Wednesday posted a 9.8% fall in quarterly U.S. auto sales, as a fall in sales of its profitable trucks outweighed higher demand for sport utility vehicles.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker sold 542,749 vehicles in the fourth quarter, down from 601,862 a year earlier.

The automaker posted a 12.5% decline in truck sales as well as a 41.1% fall in passenger cars as it continues to phase out traditional sedan models in North America that have become increasingly unpopular with consumers.

Sales of its SUVs, however, rose 4% to 216,732 units.

“Fourth quarter represented an inflection point at Ford in our transition from cars to a much greater focus on iconic trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles,” said Andrew Frick, vice president at Ford’s sales in the United States and Canada.

“We are well positioned to see the benefits of our focused efforts throughout 2021,” Frick added.

Increased demand for new vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic helped General Motors Co and other automakers report strong fourth-quarter U.S. sales on Tuesday.

Auto sales in the United States managed to bounce back since hitting a pandemic-fueled bottom in April, leading major automakers to ramp up production to rebuild dealer inventories.

However, rising COVID-19 cases in the United States have increased the uncertainty over a speedy rebound.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Maju Samuel