Ford Sales Rise 11% as Utilities Crest

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- Ford ( F) sales rose 11% in August, led by the company's sport utility vehicles.

Sales of the new Ford Explorer rose 300% to 9,901 units, while Escape sales rose 39% to 20,607 and overall utility sales gained 49%. Lincoln sales gained 25% to 8,006. Overall Ford sales totaled 175,220.

"Customers value the fuel efficiency and technology of our new utilities," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, in a prepared statement. "Ford's fuel-efficient cars, crossovers and trucks continue winning over consumers in the marketplace."

The 2012 Explorer gets an estimated 28 miles a gallon on the highway when equipped with an EcoBoost engine, Ford said.

Through August, Ford was the best-selling brand of utility vehicles in America, with sales up 30% to 377,112 units.

Meanwhile, sales of the Ford F-Series pickup, the best-selling U.S. vehicle, gained just 2.4% to 48,795 units. F-Series with V-6 engines accounted for 57% of sales. Sales of the Fusion, Ford's best-selling car (pictured above), gained 4.9% to 17,925 units. Fusion sales are up 16% year-to-date.

Focus sales, constrained by low inventory, fell 9% to 14,093. Fiesta and Focus remain the fastest-turning vehicles in its showrooms, the company said.

In the fourth quarter, Ford plans to produce 645,000 vehicles, up 9% from a year earlier. Planned third quarter production of 630,000 vehicles is unchanged from the previous forecast.

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

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