September 3, 2008 / 4:14 PM / 11 years ago

Ford August U.S. sales fall 26.6 percent

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday that sales fell 26.6 percent in August amid steep declines in large pickup trucks and SUVs, and cut its second-half production plans.

A line of Ford trucks for sale at a Ford dealership in Broomfield, Colorado, July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Ford said weak economic conditions continue in the United States and cut its outlook for full-year U.S. industry light vehicle sales to the low end of its forecasted range of 14 million to 14.5 million vehicles.

“We expect the second half of 2008 will be more challenging than the first half, as weak economic conditions and the consumer credit crunch continues,” said Jim Farley, group vice president of marketing and communications, in a statement.

Sales dropped to 155,690 vehicles in August from 212,120 vehicles a year earlier, including all of Ford’s brands, the automaker said.

In its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, car sales were off 8.9 percent, crossover sales fell 1.3 percent, SUV sales tumbled 53 percent, and truck and van sales fell 38.5 percent.

Sales of Ford’s compact Focus rose 23.4 percent in August and are running nearly 26 percent stronger for the year with consumers concentrating on more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ford has been restructuring its North American operations to account for what executives see as a permanent shift in demand toward passenger cars and away from the larger trucks and SUVs that had provided most of its profits in the past.

The automaker, which posted an $8.7 billion loss in the second quarter, plans to shift some truck plants to car production and is introducing several new car models in North America including a subcompact Fiesta car.

U.S. sales at Ford’s Volvo luxury brand fell 48.8 percent in August. Ford announced on Tuesday that Stephen Odell would become president and chief executive of Volvo on October 1, succeeding Fredrik Arp, who is leaving Ford.

Ford cut its North American production plan by 50,000 vehicles for the second half of the year to 890,000 vehicles. That would include 420,000 vehicles in the third quarter and 470,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter.

The production cut reflects lower sales to car rental companies, the shifting of production of the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator to Kentucky and a cut in the company’s U.S. industry sales forecast, Ford said.

Ford shares were up 8 cents at $4.59 Wednesday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Brian Moss

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