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Ford Says U.S. Pickup Sales at Highest Pace Since December

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. said U.S. sales of pickups are at their highest pace since December on declining fuel prices.

“Full-size pickups are up just slightly from a year ago, but it’s above the 9-to-10 percent level we saw in April and May when gas got to $4 a gallon,” George Pipas, a Ford sales analyst, told reporters at company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. “Now it’s back to normal.”

The average fuel price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.54 a gallon, according to AAA. Ford’s U.S. vehicle sales rose 11 percent in August, faster than the industrywide gain of 7.5 percent. Sales of F-Series pickups, accounting for a fourth of Ford’s U.S. vehicle deliveries through August, rose 7 percent.

Ford has begun considering the possibility of a double-dip recession and is analyzing it as “a scenario,” Pipas said.

“But it’s not our plan,” Pipas said. “You can’t ignore the economic data coming in. So you have to attach some level of probability to it.”

Pipas declined to say what probability Ford gives a double-dip recession.

“Our plan is economic growth will be slow over the next several quarters,” Pipas said. “The surveys say people are uncertain about the future. An automobile is a discretionary purchase; you can wait.”

Ford’s U.S. market share rose to 16.8 percent this year through August, from 16.7 percent last year, according to researcher Autodata Corp. of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Under Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, Ford has been diversifying its model lineup, including adding the Fiesta subcompact.

Ford rose 24 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $9.86 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have fallen 41 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Dearborn, Michigan at knaughton3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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