Feb 2, 2010 1:00 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Ford sees its sales rise 25 percent in January

Ford Motor Co.'s sales rose 25 percent in January, buoyed by a stronger economy and Toyota Motor Corp.'s decision to halt U.S. sales of eight popular models because of faulty gas pedal systems.

Ford said Tuesday car sales rose 43 percent while sales of trucks and SUVs climbed 15 percent. The automaker also more than doubled sales to rental car agencies and other fleets as the credit crunch eased and businesses started spending again.

January is typically a weak month for U.S. auto sales, but automakers were expecting sales to improve over last January, when they dipped to a 26-year low because of the tough economy. Sales never really recovered last year, totaling 10.4 million cars and light trucks, the lowest since 1982.

Korean automaker Kia said its January U.S. sales were essentially flat. Other automakers, including Toyota, were scheduled to report results later Tuesday.

Ford was expecting to snatch some sales from Toyota, which stopped selling the Camry sedan and seven other cars and trucks on Jan. 26 following a recall over sticky accelerator pedals. Ford and General Motors Corp. are offering incentives to Toyota drivers who trade in vehicles.

Toyota has said dealers will get the parts to fix the problem by the end of this week, but in the meantime Toyota could lose thousands of sales in January and February. The recall affects 2.3 million cars and trucks in the U.S.

The car-buying site predicted Toyota's U.S. market share would drop to 14.7 percent in January, its lowest level since March 2006.

Ford estimated that its U.S. market share rose to 16 percent in January, up 2 percentage points from last January. Ford ended 2009 with its first full-year gain in market share since 1995.

After a strong December, automakers were anxious to see whether any momentum would carry into January and signal that an economic recovery is underway. Edmunds predicted overall sales would be up 7 percent from last January but down 32 percent from December, when year-end clearance sales fueled buying.

Ford's figures include commercial vehicles, which are a small percentage of Ford's overall sales.




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