Ford of Europe's new-car sales fell 17.2 percent in its main 19 European markets last month as the ending of scrappage schemes that have boosted the carmaker's volume took full effect.
After ten months of consecutive year-over-year monthly volume gains, Ford's sales declined to 101,100 in the 19 markets in April, compared with the same month in 2009, the company said in a statement. Total industry sales were down 5.3 percent to 1.29 million, the first monthly decline in the industry this year when compared to 2009.
Scrappage schemes that have boosted sales of Ford's smaller Fiesta and Ka models have finished or are being wound down in key markets such as Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy. The government-backed programs offered consumers incentives to swap older cars for new, more fuel-efficient models.
Ford's sales were hit last month because the carmaker refused to join some of its rivals in offering incentives, Ingvar Sviggum, Ford of Europe's head of sales and marketing, said.
"In April, we took a conscious decision not to follow the market, knowing that the expected decline in industry volumes after the ending of many of the scrappage schemes would likely prompt some players to increase even further their aggressive marketing incentives," Sviggum said in a statement.
He added that Ford would "not devalue our brand or hurt our residual values just to chase volume or share."
Ford of Europe's market share in its main 19 markets was 7.8 percent, 1.1 percentage points below the April 2009 level, but Sviggum said the company expects share to recover as the market stabilizes in the second half of the year.
Ford was the No.2 best-selling passenger car brand in Europe for the first four months of the year after Volkswagen brand.
The Fiesta is still the company's best-selling car in Europe with 172,600 units sold during the first four months. Ford has sold nearly 800,000 Fiestas globally since the latest-generation was launched in October 2008, more than 700,000 sold in Europe. Fiesta production recently started in Mexico in preparation for the North American launch of the car.
In April, Ford's unit sales fell 13.7 percent to 121,100 in the company's 51 European markets including Russia and Turkey, with sales in the first four months slightly up at 0.2 percent to 553,400.
In the first four months, Ford sold 492,500 vehicles in its 19 European markets, 2.5 percent more than in 2009. Total industry sales in the 19 markets grew 5.5. percent to 5.47 million.