A double-digit dip in car deliveries dragged down Ford light-vehicle sales in July, as total volume declined to 184,965.

The performance marked a 4.5% drop in the daily rate from like-2016 (one fewer selling day this year than last), according to WardsAuto data, a slump Ford blames mostly on a sharp reduction in fleet deliveries.

The automaker says fleets, off 26.4%, accounted for 20.3% of total sales in the month, down from 31.8% year-ago. Most of that reduction came from the daily-rental market, accounting for just 4.4% of sales vs. 13.7% in like-2016.

The impact from slumping fleet demand was evident in Fusion sedan sales, plunging 39.8% daily to 13,886 in July. But a recall causing a delivery hold on the Transit van also affected fleet volume. Transit sales were off 66.0% from year-ago at 3,710 units.

Fleet volume should rebound some in the second half, says Mark LaNeve, vice president-U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, with Ford targeting the sector to wind up at 29% of its total volume for 2017.

Retail sales slipped 1% by volume in the month, though Ford says its share of the retail market has risen during the 3-month period ending in July. LaNeve characterizes industry incentives as modest, up about $200 on average from year-ago and says Ford is remaining disciplined when it comes to offering discounts.

Ford’s overall car volume slid 19.4% to 48,259 units, while SUV/CUVs rose 2.2% to 71,067, with the Escape, Edge and Explorer all showing gains. The automaker says its retail sales in the segment were up 9.1%.

Pickup and van sales were off 7.1% by volume to 80,886, as a result of the Transit issue. The F-Series performed well, however, with sales of light-duty models up 8.3% daily to 63,989.

Lincoln (up 1.5% daily) outperformed the Ford brand (off 4.8%), despite most models finishing below year-ago. The brand got a boost from its MKC CUV, up 3.6%, and the new Continental added 958 units to the slate.

A continuing bright spot for Ford is its rising average transaction prices, which LaNeve says increased $300 per unit from year-ago. More telling is the mix on certain models, such as the F-Series Super Duty, where 53% of sales involve higher-end models, he says. It’s a similar story with pre-orders for the new Expedition, where half are for the top-of-the-line Platinum model.

At Lincoln, half of all Continental sedan sales are the two top trims and 75% of pre-orders for the new Navigator fullsize SUV favor the high-end models, LaNeve says.

Ford wrapped up July with 616,824 vehicles in stock, equal to a 77-day supply. That’s down from 696,274 (79 days) at the end of June and 641,420 (77) year-ago. Car inventory stood at a 79-day supply, with utilities at 61 days and trucks at 90.

dzoia@wardsauto.com @DavidZoia