Ford U.S. Sales Up 2.3% in July

'Cash for Clunkers' program working

Assited by the government-funded car trade-in program, Ford Motor Co. reported a 2.3% increase in July auto sales.

It was the first month Ford posted a year-over-year gain since November 2007 and the entire industry has hit by nearly a year of double-digit losses, the automaker said.

Ford said retail sales at its core brands -- Ford, Lincoln and Mercury -- rose 9% to 118,197 vehicles. Total sales, including Volvo and low-margin fleet sales, rose 2.3% to 158,838.

Ford attributed its success to the vastly popular 'Cash for Clunkers' program, which burned through one billion dollars in its first week after spurring the sale of about 200,000 vehicles.

"Our products, our dealers and our advance preparation enabled us to leverage the program and drive traffic and sales to another level," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. "In addition, we achieved a sales increase even though we decreased incentive spending in an increasingly competitive environment."

The program got fresh backing from the House of Representatives on July 31, when lawmakers voted for a two-billion dollar funding boost for the program but it must now gain approval from the Senate.

The sales gain marks the latest in a slew of more optimistic data from Ford, the only member of the Detroit Three automakers to have avoided bankruptcy. On July 23 announced it had swung back into profitability in the second quarter. The firm posted a net profit of $2.3 billion between April and June, due to cost cutting and a $3.4 billion one-off debt restructuring. That compared with a whopping $8.7 billion loss in the same period a year ago.

The automaker said it had managed to increase its market share in all regions in the second quarter, including a two point gain to 16.4% of the key U.S. market.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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