Ford's February Sales Climb 14% on Explorers, Fuel-Efficient Models

Ford February Sales
Ford February Sales

Ford Motor (F) reported Tuesday that its February sales rose 14% compared to a year ago, in part due to strong sales of the revamped Ford Explorer sports-utility vehicle, which debuted in late 2010.

In total, the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker said it sold 156,626 vehicles for the month. Among other popular models were smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Fusion midsize sedan, sales of which rose 40%, and the Ford Escape compact SUV, which had 19% higher sales compared to a year ago.

Ford said the Fiesta subcompact, introduced last spring, had its best month ever, selling 6,270 units.

"With oil nearing $100 per barrel and gasoline prices continuing to rise, consumers' consideration for fuel economy once again is taking top billing," said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. sales.

Despite surging oil prices, the automaker also recorded a 14% rise in sales of F-Series pickup trucks, the nation's most popular vehicles.

Second-Quarter Output Hike

Within its divisions, the company said sales at its namesake Ford unit rose 22%, but those of its luxury Lincoln brand sank 11%. The company's Mercury brand, discontinued in December, recorded no sales for the month.

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So far this year, sales have totaled 283,943, up 14% compared to the same period a year ago, Ford said. In the first two months of the new year, retail sales have risen 25%. The strongest growth appeared in the Eastern U.S., with a 45% gain in retail sales, while those in California were close behind with a 43% rise.

Ford said it plans to build 710,000 vehicles in the second quarter, which begins April 1. That's a 9% increase from the comparable period a year ago. For the current quarter, the company expects to manufacture 650,000 vehicles, unchanged from its previous forecast.

Most major automakers are due to report U.S. monthly sales figures Tuesday. General Motors (GM) was first out of the gate this morning, reporting a 46% increase in overall sales in February, beating analyst estimates. Nissan Motors (NSANY) and Subaru also reported increases. The nation's No. 3 automaker, Toyota Motor (TM), will release figures later in the day.

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