The company said its net profit was $1.21bn (£630m), on sales of $45.1bn (£23.5bn) compared to $44.7bn (£23.3bn) last year.
Ford is in the middle of long term restructuring aimed at cutting costs and returning the carmaker to healthy profits.
The company said the strategy was working, even though it had had to push back its profit targets and was expecting a narrow loss in the three months to June.
Its car making operations are in the black, ending the quarter with $800m (£416.7m) more cash than it started.
Profits from Ford’s automotive business worldwide were $579m (£301.6m), down by more than two thirds from the year before on sales that rose only 1% to $39.3bn (£20.5bn).
Ford’s European profits including Premier Automotive Group,were down $34m (£17.7m) to $4m (£2.08m) in the first quarter compared to a profit of $38m (£19.8m) last year.
PAG, including the brands Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar, reported a pre-tax loss of $55m (£28.6m) for the first quarter, compared with a pre-tax profit of $33m (£17.19m) for the first quarter of 2004.
First-quarter sales for PAG were $7.6 billion (£4bn), compared with $6.8bn (£3.54bn) a year ago.
Executive vice president and chief financial officer, Don Leclair, says: “We expect a tougher operating environment for the remainder of the year."