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DETROIT (

MainStreet

) -- It seems

GM

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

did not enjoy reading last week that

Ford

(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report

is the No. 1 automotive brand in America.

GM shot back on Friday, pointing out that it is the No. 1

passenger car

brand in America.

Ford says it is the No. 1 U.S. brand. Chevrolet says it is the No. 1 passenger car brand.

"Chevrolet Cruises to U.S. Passenger Car Leadership," said a GM press release, issued late Friday afternoon. "Chevrolet led all automakers in U.S. passenger car sales in 2011."

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"Chevrolet posted its largest year-over-year retail sales increase in 35 years, due in large part to strong sales of the Cruze," the release continued.

One week earlier, on Dec. 30, Ford issued a release saying it is "the best-selling brand in America and the first automotive brand to hit the 2 million mark since 2007." The release came on a slow news day and was widely publicized in the media.

Edmunds.com analyst Ivan Drury called Chevy's release "a nice little marketing spin that takes some of the steam out of the Ford announcement."

In 2011, Ford sold 2.1 million vehicles in the U.S., including 810,242 trucks; 722,501 cars and 616,063 utilities. Chevrolet sold 668,184 trucks, 763,173 cars and 344,455 utilities.

Chevrolet spokeswoman Afaf Farah said the automaker's announcement had no relationship to its competitor's earlier announcement.

"We had good news to share about Chevy sales," she said. "It was a good way to end the year, with our numbers up across a lot of our cars, and we wanted to share the good news going into the auto show next week."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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