US car giant Ford has seen its profits drop almost 40 per cent in the first quarter of the year.Falling sales in the United States and the increasing costs of raw materials are largely to blame. The company said its net profit was 900 million euros on sales of 34 billion euros. Ford’s premium European brands such as Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin all made a loss. However in Europe, South America and Asia profits and sales improved for Ford Motor Credit, the arm of the group which lends money to customers. But bad though Ford’s results were, they were not in the same league as the world’s biggest car maker – arch-rival GM – which said earlier this week it had lost 800 million euros over the same period. Both firms face intense difficulties in their home market, as rising petrol costs and flagging consumer spending hit home. High fuel costs are pinching demand particularly for Ford’s bigger trucks and sport-utility vehicles, which are less energy efficient than many from Asia.