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Ford expects to lose $600 million during the first quarter of this year due, in large part, to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Image Credit: Supplied

Ford Motor Co has said that it expects to post a pre-tax loss of $600 million for the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak. This time last year, it had reported a $2.4 billion profit.

COVID-19 has forced its assembly plants in North America and Europe to temporarily close and the pandemic has resulted in a 21 per cent drop in vehicle sales compared to the same quarter last year.

The news also sent Ford's shares down by 5 per cent yesterday morning.

Ironically, just its joint ventures in China - where COVID-19 began - are currently producing vehicles. The virus has been receding there in recent weeks and the automaker said it is also working on a scenario for a phased restart of its plants from the second quarter.

While the Q1 loss will be tough to swallow, the company did attempt to prepare for the rough financial road it — and most other carmakers — are facing for much of the year.

"We believe we have sufficient cash today to get us through at least the end of the third quarter with no incremental vehicle production and wholesales or financing actions," Chief Financial Officer Tim Stone said in a statement.