DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s new car and truck sales dropped in April from year-ago levels after the war with Iraq and the weak U.S. economy offset higher incentives launched to lure shoppers into dealerships.
Many analysts had expected industry sales to recover from poor results earlier this year, but Ford posted lower sales levels than in March.
Analysts expect sales to come in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of around 16.7 million light vehicles, up from a low of 15.3 million in February, but down from the 17.2 million rate of April last year.
Ford's U.S. brands, including Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, reported a drop of 6.9 percent to 279,933 vehicles in April. All sales results are adjusted for an extra selling day in April.
Jim O'Connor, Ford group vice president of North America marketing, sales and service, said in a statement that he was encouraged by the strong reaction to Ford's incentives and stronger U.S. consumer confidence indicators released in April.
Earlier this week, Ford extended its offer of $5-a-day leases on its entry-level Ford Mustang sports car and Ford Ranger midsize pickup trucks through June 16, due to strong sales. Since Ford launched the $5-a-day lease on March 31, Mustang sales have grown from 93 a day to 465 per day through April 25. Ranger sales have been even stronger, Ford said.
"We're encouraged by higher consumer confidence readings," O'Connor said. "A more confident consumer enhances the prospect that consumer spending will improve in the second half of the year."