Ford Caps 2010 With 7% Sales Jump in December

Ford Caps 2010 with 7% Sales Jump in December
Ford Caps 2010 with 7% Sales Jump in December

Ford Motor (F), the nation's second-largest automaker, reported its year-over-year sales rose 7% in December, driven by strong demand from consumers. It gives the company its best retail-sales month of 2010.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based carmaker sold 190,976 cars, trucks and utility vehicles in the final month of 2010, compared to 179,017 in December 2009. Overall, Ford said retail sales, which exclude fleet sales, rose 17% for the month.

Ford ended the year having sold a total 1.935 million vehicles for 2010, a 19% gain compared to the 1.62 million it sold in 2009. The company described the yearly increase as the largest posted by any full-line automaker.

"With our balanced line of high-quality, fuel-efficient products, we have a solid foundation to deliver more sales and improved results in 2011," Ken Czubay, Ford vice president for U.S. sales, said in a statement. "Consideration for Ford is increasing beyond our traditional areas of strength -- signaling that the seeds of growth already have taken hold."

Trucks, SUVs Lead Sales Boost

For the month, Ford said sales strength was highest at its namesake Ford division, where deliveries rose 20%, while those at Lincoln gained 3%. Mercury, which ended its 72-year run last month, reported sales fell 29%.

Models showing particularly strong sales included the redesigned Ford Edge crossover utility vehicle, with demand up 19.3%, and the company's line of F-Series pickup trucks, which gained 14%.

The Ford Fusion midsize sedan saw sales rise 20% in December. For the year, the Fusion sold more than 219,000 units, marking the first time a Ford passenger car has sold more than 200,000 copies in a year since 2004, the company said.

Among new models, Ford noted that demand for its redesigned Ford Explorer SUV, which began sales just last month, more than doubled compared to the previous version to 10,100 units.

Ford reported fleet sales to rental-car companies were 40% lower than a year ago, owing in part to strong demand earlier in the year that has since tapered off. General Motors (GM), which reported its December sales figures earlier Tuesday, also reported its fleet sales fell in December by 17%.

Toyota's Loss Is Detroit's Gain

In its outlook for 2011, Ford said it expects the U.S. economy to expand 3% to 4% during the year, and it projects industry sales in the range of 12.5 million to 13.5 million units, similar to an estimate Tuesday from GM of 13 million to 13.5 million.

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Ford said its share of the U.S. market rose for the second year in a row in 2010, marking the first back-to-back increase in market share since 1993. For the year, Ford estimated its share of the U.S. market at 16.4%, up 1.1 percentage points from a year ago and 2.2 percentage points higher than in 2008. The automaker owes part of that gain to the woes experienced by rival Toyota Motor (TM), which stumbled in the wake of several high-profile recalls involving sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles early last year.

GM was the first to report December sales figures Tuesday. The nation's largest automaker said its sales rose 7.5% compared to a year ago and 6.3% for the year compared to all of 2009. Other automakers, including Toyota and Honda Motor (HMC), are due to report December sales data later in the day.

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