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By Andrew Ganz

There's no question that Ford is on a roll - sales are up 21 percent this year, out pacing the industry average. Yet new research suggests that Ford's success might be due, at least in part, to hefty discounts levied on its products.

According to TrueCar, Ford products accounted for nine of the 10 most discounted 2010 model year vehicles last month. The good news for Ford is that the biggest discounts came on its soon-to-be discontinued Ford Focus (an average of 17.3 percent off of list price), Ford Ranger (16.8 percent) and Mercury Grand Marquis (14.6 percent) models, as well as the Lincoln MKX (14.5 percent), which was refreshed for 2011.

However, Ford vehicles nearly swept TrueCar's individual product category study by selling with the highest level of discount from list price. Of the 15 categories, Ford took first place in 12 but did not compete in two (luxury sport car and minivan). That means that consumers were able to knock more off of the list price on a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle than anything else in the segment.

Yet Ford's 2011 models aren't necessarily fairing much better. Among the top five most discounted 2011s, the Ford Flex (10.5 percent) leads the way, while the Lincoln MKZ and Ranger also made the list.

The hefty discounts helped Ford's three divisions take the top three places in TrueCar's study of the most-discounted 2010 models. Perhaps most surprising is that the automaker's namesake Ford division offers the biggest MSRP cuts: 14.7 percent off of list price, on average. Lincoln, at 12.3 percent, was second, while lame-duck Mercury was third at 11.5 percent. Hyundai was in fourth at 10 percent, while GMC was fifth with 9.8 percent.

While Ford did offer especially high incentives last month to move 2010 inventory, the blue oval division has been either the highest or the second highest discounted nameplate in the industry for the entire year, according to

Transaction prices up

Ford might be offering hefty discounts, but the automaker still says that transaction prices are up about 14 percent to $26,100 last year. Ford's average revenue per vehicle increased 14 percent from 2008 to 2009.

According to VP of Product Development Derrick Kuzak, Ford's technology is driving its increased transaction prices.

“Technology has been fundamental to our improved brand and business,” Kuzak told reporters gathered in Detroit last week for an automotive electronics show.



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