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Ford Says November U.S. Auto Sales Rose Led by Small SUVs

Ford Motor Co. said U.S. auto sales rose in November, led by sales of small sport-utility vehicles.

“There’s reason to feel good about November,” Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst, told reporters today at the company’s Dearborn, Michigan, headquarters. “We think there’s probably a level that would put us in the mid-13-million range as an industry.”

Sales of small SUVs, which include Ford’s Escape, “reign supreme,” he said. Ford includes medium- and heavy-truck sales in its industrywide annual selling rate, which adds about 200,000 to the total.

The November 2010 sales rate was 12.3 million, according to researcher Autodata Corp. General Motors Co. also has said it expects an increase this month. Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales, said Nov. 15 at an investor conference that the November sales rate may reach 14 million, which also includes medium- and heavy-duty truck deliveries.

Ford’s U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 6.2 percent in October, less than the industrywide gain of 7.5 percent. Ford’s U.S. market share rose to 16.8 percent this year through October, from 16.7 percent last year, according to Woodcliff, New Jersey-based Autodata.

The second-largest U.S. automaker earned $6.6 billion in the first nine months of the year, as new models like the Fiesta subcompact and Explorer sport-utility vehicle attracted buyers.

Ford has gained consumer consideration because it managed to avoid the bankruptcies that befell its U.S. rivals in 2009. The company borrowed $23.4 billion in late 2006 before credit markets froze, which gave it the cash it needed to weather the recession and invest in new models.

Ford fell 0.1 percent to $9.99 at the close in New York. The shares have fallen 41 percent this year.

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