Ford’s pickups, hybrids drive 6.8% rise in first-quarter US sales

(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co reported a 6.8% rise in first-quarter U.S. auto sales on Wednesday, powered by demand for its pickup trucks, crossover SUVs and hybrids.

Sales of the automaker’s affordable compact Maverick pickup truck surged nearly 82% to 39,061 units as more buyers gravitated toward cheaper vehicles over the past few months amid higher living costs.

Ford had also boosted production capacity for the Maverick, which starts at $23,815, late last year to meet the strong demand.

The Detroit automaker notched overall sales of 508,083, compared with 475,906 a year earlier, as U.S. vehicle sales extended a recent strong run.

Shares of Ford rose about 2.3% in morning trade.

General Motors on Tuesday reported a drop in first-quarter U.S. vehicle sales on lower deliveries to commercial customers but strong retail demand helped it to outsell Toyota Motor’s local unit.

Overall, U.S. new vehicle sales finished at around 15.49 million units on a seasonally adjusted annual rate in March, according to data released by Wards Intelligence on Tuesday.

Sales of Ford’s hybrid vehicles rose 42% to 38,421 units from a year ago, while EVs jumped 86.1%.

Ford said “an increasing preference for hybrid trucks and SUVs” helped deliver its best quarterly hybrid sales.

On Tuesday, Toyota Motor North America said sales of its EVs, which include hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, rose about 74% to 206,850 units in the quarter.

Peer Stellantis’ FCA US LLC on Wednesday reported a 10% drop in first-quarter U.S. sales to 332,540 units, weighed by RAM and Dodge brands.

Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila