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Ford says U.S. auto sales running at 12 million pace

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Ford says U.S. auto sales running at 12 million pace

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

U.S. auto sales in December are running at an annual rate above 12 million vehicles for a third consecutive month and are likely to rise further in 2011, Ford Motor Co.'s chief market analyst predicted today.

"It's too early to say exactly where it's going to land, but it looks like another 12 million sales month," Pipas said.

He noted that the fact that Christmas and New Year's Day fall on Saturdays might dampen the December totals because those are big shopping days.

The U.S. auto market has been recovering slowly since its plunge last year to 30-year lows. The seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate has increased from 10.7 million vehicles in the last quarter of 2009 to 11 million in the first quarter of 2010, 11.2 million in the second quarter, and 11.5 million in the third quarter.

"Now it looks like we're going to be in the 12 million range for the fourth quarter," he said.

"This is a very positive trend as we go forward to 2011. We've said we think sales for the year will be above 12 million and perhaps closer to 13 million," Pipas told The Detroit News.

Ford has outperformed the market, with sales up 21 percent through November, nearly double the industrywide gain of 11 percent. With new models such as the Fiesta subcompact and the redesigned Taurus sedan, Ford has increased its U.S. market share to 16.7 percent this year, from 15.3 percent in the same period last year, according to Autodata Corp. of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Ford is on track to end the year in second place, a rank it lost in 2007 to Toyota Motor Corp. Toyota has seen its market share slide to third place this year after massive safety recalls, while Ford has recorded the largest gain in market share since the 1980s, Pipas said.

Ford, the only one of Detroit's automaker that didn't request a government bailout, earned $6.37 billion in the first nine months of the year, the most since 1998. The Dearborn automaker borrowed $23 billion in late 2006 before credit markets froze, which provided a cash cushion to weather the recession and invest in new models.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101220/AUTO01/12200377/Ford-says-U.S.-auto-sales-running-at-12-million-pace#ixzz18gnPVayL

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