Ford Sales Up 9%, Despite Passenger Car Sales Declines

DETROIT TheStreet) -- Ford ( F) said September sales rose 9%, driven by strong truck and utility sales, even as car sales declined.

Ford sales totaled 175,199 units. F-Series truck sales rose 14.7% to 54,410, the model's third best sales month of the year. Ford utility sales rose 35% to 48,798 as Escape sales rose 41% to 20,225, a September sales record.

But Ford auto sales fell 2.3% to 46,158, even though Fusion sales rose 22.6% to 19,510. Sales of Focus, Taurus and Mustang all showed double-digit declines. Lincoln sales fell 6.6% to 7,018. Defunct Mercury sold 6,306 units in September 2010.

Ford, the best-selling utility brand in the U.S., said utilities had their best September sales month since 2004. "The utility segment continues to expand and has changed dramatically over the years," said Ken Czubay, vice president, U.S. marketing sales and service, in a prepared statement. He said Ford now provides utility consumers with both "the fuel economy they want and the functionality they need."

Despite the September decline, Ford brand cars totaled 530,230 through September, up 19% for the year. Ford said that is more than double the industry's passenger car sales growth rate this year.

Also on Monday, GM ( GM)said its September sales rose 20%, while Chrysler reported a 27% gain. analyst Michelle Krebs said Ford auto sales should get a boost once a new line of Lincolns is introduced.

"Ford's September sales figures beg the question: Can the automaker do for the Lincoln brand what it has done for the Ford brand?" Krebs said, in a prepared statement. "The Lincoln brand continues to be a drag. Lincoln's new luxury models can't arrive soon enough."

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

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