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Ford expects sales in 2011 to approach 13 million

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Ford expects sales in 2011 to approach 13 million

By KEITH NAUGHTON

BLOOMBERG

Ford said U.S. auto sales in December are running at a 12--million-unit annual rate, and it expects sales to rise to almost 13 million next year.

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December would be the third straight month of industrywide deliveries at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12 million or more, a level exceeded once in the previous two years. Sales for all of 2010 may rise to 11.5 million cars and light trucks, from 10.4 million last year, according to researcher IHS Automotive. U.S. deliveries averaged 16.8 million from 2000 to 2007.

"We have a high degree of confidence that 2011 is going to be a stronger sales year," George Pipas, Ford's sales analyst, said Monday during a briefing in Dearborn. "We're a whole lot better off than we were a year ago."

Ford's U.S. sales rose 21% in the year's first 11 months, nearly twice the industrywide gain of 11%. New models such as the Fiesta subcompact and the redesigned Taurus sedan have enabled Ford to increase its U.S. market share to 16.7% this year from 15.3% in the same period last year, according to researcher Autodata of Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

This year's sales growth was led by deliveries to fleet customers, such as governments and rental car companies, Pipas said. Ford expects retail consumers to drive next year's volume gains, Pipas said.

"It will be slow but steady positive growth in 2011," Pipas said, adding that sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 "will be the best since Lehman Brothers went out of business" in the second half of 2008. High unemployment and the sluggish housing market remain "two worry beads" that will slow auto sales growth, Pipas said.

Read more: Ford expects sales in 2011 to approach 13 million | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101221/BUSINESS01/12210342/Ford-expects-sales-in-2011-to-approach-13-million#ixzz18kokxpjO

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