Ford’s February sales slipped 6.4% vs. year-ago to 179,386, a decline largely the result of inclement weather and a parts shortage that hampered fleet deliveries.

The automaker last month had to delay 10,000 units due to the shortage in parts caused by harsh weather, pushing fleet deliveries down 10%.

John Felice, vice president-U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, says the orders should be filled this month, which will help March results. The executive also says February started slow, but built momentum as the month progressed, which also bodes well for sales this month.

“Retail sales improved as the month unfolded,” Felice says in a conference call with reporters and analysts. “We made up ground, but retail sales were 4% off. We were up against difficult year-over-year comparisons.”

Ford small-car deliveries once again struggled, with the Fiesta down 3.4% and Focus off 23.4%, compared with like-2013.

Erich Merkle, Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst, says Focus sales were hurt by the fleet shortage, as well as a growing consumer preference for small CUVs.

Although the small CUV segment is expanding in the U.S., Merkle says Ford remains pleased with the Focus, noting the C-car is the top-selling vehicle in the world.

“The world still prefers cars, although CUVs are growing globally, as well,” he says. “We’re well positioned for growth in the U.S. and globally.”

The Fusion midsize sedan also fell victim to the parts shortage, as fleet losses led to an overall monthly 14.2% decline to 23,898 units.

Fusion retail sales were flat compared with year-ago, while fleet sales fell 30%. In Western states, Fusion deliveries were up 15%, and in California 2,038 units were sold, marking the first time Fusion surpassed 2,000 monthly sales in the Golden State.

Felice says Ford is happy with the Fusion’s February performance, noting industrywide incentives in the midsize sedan segment increased $440 last month while Fusion spiffs remained flat and it still has among the highest average transaction prices.

Escape CUV sales were down 4.0% vs. year-ago to 23,145, but were up 3% at retail, according to Ford.

“It was the best retail February ever for Escape,” Felice says. “Fleet sales were down, but performance been solid and the overall segment has grown.”

F-Series deliveries posted a modest 2.1% increase for the month to 51,919. Felice says some competitors have been strongly incentivizing their fullsize pickups, but Ford remains committed to keeping spiffs to a minimum on the F-150.

The automaker says its average incentive spend on fullsize pickups is at $4,000, down $350 from last year. In comparison, Ford says some competitors are offering $5,000 in spiffs on each pickup.

“Despite (the F-150) being later in cycle it demanded the highest transaction prices in the industry,” Felice says. “We saw incentive increases in the segment, but we’re going to stay on our plan.”

Lincoln deliveries in February were up 36%, largely on the back of the MKZ midsize sedan and MKX CUV, which posted increases of 222.1% and 8.3%, respectively. Other Lincoln models performed poorly, including the MKS fullsize sedan, off 16.3%, MKT CUV (down 28.5%) and Navigator (down 29.2%).

“We’re on a journey with Lincoln, but we’re pleased to see increases,” he says.

Ford ended February with 697,000 light vehicles in inventory, including 184,000 utility vehicles, 266,000 trucks and 247,000 cars, equating to 91 days’ supply overall.

bpope@wardsauto.com