Despite an incredible number of analyst projections, as well as guidance from major automakers, it seems we never quite know what to expect from the auto industry. During June, Japanese automakers gained market share in the U.S. on Detroit's big three, despite the surging popularity of SUVs and full-size trucks -- segments that domestic automakers have long dominated. Vehicle sales in China spiked, but many attributed that jump to discounting and aggressive pricing, which no automaker's shareholders want to see. And Europe -- which has yet to feel the full impact of Brexit -- has arguably been the quietest of the markets.
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But here's what we do know: Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) ended its second quarter with declining monthly sales in Europe, and the region's make-or-break Q2 results are due to be released on July 26. In the meantime, here are the highlights of how Ford did in Europe in June for investors to chew on.
Ford's sales in its traditional 20 European markets (Euro 20) declined 1% year over year in June to 128,400 units. That trimmed a small 20 basis points from the automaker's total market share in the region, reducing it to 7.5%. The weakness derived from its passenger vehicle sales, which were down 5% to 95,600. That was partially offset by a 10% jump in commercial vehicle sales to 32,800 units.
Overall, it was an unremarkable first half for Ford -- and maybe that's not a bad thing considering the uncertainty that hit the markets following Brexit. During the first six months of 2017, Ford sold 745,200 units in the Euro 20 region, a modest 3.7% gain compared to the prior year, but less than the industry average gain of 4.3% over the period. As Ford Europe's Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Service, Roelant de Waard, detailed in a press release:
June was a strong month for SUVs, especially Kuga, and commercial vehicles. All-new Fiesta deliveries begin in July, and we're confident customers will love it. Fiesta sales were very strong in the early months of this year, making it Europe's best-selling car in March and running down stocks of the prior Fiesta model. Overall, we've had a robust first half in 2017.
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Amid the broader uncertainty in Europe, Ford's story there is going to depend on several factors: improving its sales mix by increasing retail sales rather than fleet sales; focusing on high-end trims; expanding its SUV segment; and cutting costs. Ford's SUV sales jumped 29% to 122,800 in Euro 20 during the first half, with June's monthly sales up almost 21% to 22,500 units. Ford's Kuga (Escape) and EcoSport both posted their best June sales figures, with year-over-year increases of 28% and 9%, respectively. High-series vehicles, which include the high-end Titanium and Vignale, represented 64% of passenger vehicle sales in the Euro 20, a 300-basis-point rise.
While sales mix improvement and high-end sales will help the company in Europe, the full Q2 report due in a couple of weeks will also reveal more about the impact of Brexit and currency headwinds there -- and those could have made it a bumpy quarter for Ford.
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