Ford Motor Co. lost $468 million in the second quarter, the company reported yesterday, a loss which is expected to be topped among automakers only by Chrysler Corp. when it reports later this week.

Ford also was in the red in the first quarter, losing $164 million.

The most recent loss, which came on worldwide sales of $9.27 billion, was equal to $4.28 a share. In the second quarter of 1979, Ford earned $512 million -- sales of $11.9 billion -- so the swing in earnings amounted to $980 million from the year before.

Ford Chairman Philip Caldwell said, "The decline from last year primarily reflected the lower volume in North America and Europe resulting from weaker economic conditions and higher sales of imported vehicles from Japan."

For those same reasons, General Motors earlier reported it lost $412 million in the second quarter, while American Motors said it lost $85 million. Both amounts were records for the companies.

In the United States, Ford's after-tax loss was $735 million, compared with a profit of $153 million last year. Operations in other countries earned $267 million in the second quarter, but that also was down from $359 million in the comparable quarter a year ago.

While Caldwell made no prediction about the company's earnings in the second half of the year, he implied the loses were not over. "Programs to reduce operating costs are well under way, and we are starting to see the results," he says. "Major savings, however, will be overshadowed in the near term by the costs of launching the company's new 1981 models, which traditionally have adversely affected third-quarter results.

"In the longer term, the company's results should improve sharply as industry volume recovers, our more-fuel-efficient cars are introduced and the full effect of cost-reduction programs is realized, Caldwell said.

Worldwide sales of Ford cars, trucks and tractors tumbled 34 percent from last year's second quarter, with 1,125,000 being sold. The number of units sold in the United States fell a huge 44 percent. Outside this country, unit sales were off 21 percent.

Industry analysts are widely divided on their predictions of how much Ford will lose for all of 1980. The figures range from a low of $750 million to $1.75 billion.

Ford has shut two U.S. assembly plants this year and has said it would reduce annual fixed costs by $1.5 billion after the one-time charge for closing the plants has been recorded.

Like Chrysler, Ford is counting on sales of new smaller cars to improve its situation.

"Despite losses in 1980," Caldwell said. "Ford is continuing its worldwide program to downsize and improve the fuel efficiency of its products. Worldwide capital expenditures for facilities and tooling are projected at about $3.2 billion for 1980 and at an average of almost $4 billion annually, through 1984."