Strong Together Again Under the Heaviest Loads and Unexpected Conditions
Changing routines, habits, rules... changing world with an epidemic. As people of the same era, we may have experienced many negative experiences; However, for the first time, we have experienced such a situation that creates a global impact, bringing us, those who live in different parts of the world under completely different conditions, to meet in the same conditions and feelings so sudden. Although at first the uncertainty about the epidemic and after it caused concern in all of us, we believed that we would heal without experiencing the worst by engaging, acting wisely, taking appropriate and timely measures. And as the entire Ford Otosan family, we have taken steps in this direction.
Of course, this process brought along economic concerns. It has caused some disruption and contraction in the heavy commercial sector which is a large and important market for Turkey. Especially as the logistic for medical equipment and food -which becomes much more vital during the pandemic period- did not stop, on the contrary accelerated, enabled this contraction to be experienced for a short time and on a smaller scale. In this sense, heavy commercial vehicles have played an important role along with the transportation sector. By the way, again; I wholeheartedly send my sincere gratitude to all our drivers, who we are "together in every load" and who take the road to deliver the most critical needs to where they are needed.
If we look at the first 6 months of the year from the perspective of the heavy commercial market, I can initially say that despite unexpected circumstances, I think and predict that we will end this year in a much better position than 2019. The year 2019 was quite inefficient for the heavy commercial market, with low sales volumes compared to previous years. So much so that it was the lowest market in the last 25 years. Before 2020, we began with good plans, anticipating growth for this year. Because the demands postponed for the past 4 years due to low market impact naturally caused the vehicles to wear out. Therefore, we could easily foresee that the market would grow. Thus, we started the year with growth plans. We saw the accuracy of these predictions in the first two months of the year. While the total number of sales in January and February 2019 was 600, it had reached 1,500 sales in the same period of 2020. As we had a fast entry into March, the epidemic started to affect our country in the middle of that month and its spread to the world accelerated, thus the sales start to decrease. This decrease hit 50% in April, as most producers stopped production for precautionary purposes. However, after the returning production in May, the rate was immediately reduced to 25%.
The halt of production for a while brought some complications. As a result of a shallow market, the stock situation has also decreased to a certain extent. Of course, this interrupted the rapid response to the demand. For example, in this process, our customers and we had some mix problems. Since each vehicle is not the same and varies according to customer needs in our industry, our customers have had various difficulties in finding the models they want. At this point, we also could not keep up with the option demands on certain models.
However, we ask all our customers to be patient because we have returned to our pre-epidemic production period, especially as of July. Therefore, I am sure that companies producing domestic brands such as us will make up for this gap as soon as possible.
With the slowdown in production, the second-hand market has also become highly active. Our customers, who could not find the model options they were looking for, tended to second hand due to their urgent needs. And we also try to stand by our customers with the exchange support and installment postponement campaigns with our TruckMarket brand that serves in the secondhand market.
Of course, besides the domestic market, there is also an export dimension. Particularly, Italy and Spain, which are in the Western European market we entered last year, and the Middle East Region was highly affected by the epidemic, causing a contraction here. The rate of the contraction, which hit 70% in April, was reduced to 50% in May. However, we anticipate that the recovery in these markets will also take place in the shortest time and rapidly. Such that, we have not given up the European market targets that we started last year, we are only having a delay due to the epidemic. I hope that we will achieve our goals to exist in many new markets starting with the French market in 2020 and in Western Europe in 2021, especially in Germany.
Again, in this process, we continued the mutual support at the same level as our dealers that we have always stood close. We supported them both in terms of operation and Covid-19 measures. Within the scope of the measures determined by the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, and Ford Motor Company, we meticulously implemented all steps from the center to our dealers. By conveying the necessary equipment to our dealers, we also created the road map of the processes that should be implemented. With the aim of operational support, we did our best to overcome the difficulties of the period with both payment facilities and various incentives to make the process more comfortable. Again, we are grateful to all our dealers for their cooperation and common sense in this process.
In summary, if I need to speak on behalf of Ford Trucks, I think we have gone through this process in the best possible way, both in terms of health and production. As I mentioned above, we started to normalize in June and returned to our pre-epidemic daily parts production number in July. Despite the pandemic process, I think we can pass the year of 2019. Fortunately, our work continues regularly. If there are trade volume and economic growth, the heavy commercial industry would have a clear path ahead. We started this year with the energy and power of Ford Trucks, which left 2019 behind with valuable success. Despite the unexpected developments in the world, we have not lost anything from our energy and excitement. We began by making our plans with the anticipation that the market will grow, and the rates will multiply in 2021 and we are excited to implement our projects.
Of course, the most important of all is to keep all of us healthy, not to lose more of our people, and to continue our way in a safe environment while achieving all these goals. At this point, the industry has a great responsibility as well. It is of great importance to always keep the tight measures and maintain the same meticulousness without getting compromised for a moment. Only in this way can we continue to protect both our health and our economy.
Since our establishment, our goal has been to contribute and invest in the economy, employment, development, and the future of the nation. We are determined to continue this as much as we can under all circumstances. Therefore, after completing this year relatively calmly and cautiously, I have full faith on behalf of the heavy commercial sector and the entire industry that, in 2021, improvement in all aspects and unabated growth will occur.