Ford Group’s U.S. new car and truck sales jumped 14 percent in February, aided by sweeter financing and lease deals. Ford sold 150,678 in February.
The Lincoln luxury brand continues to struggle, with sales down 11 percent.
Among other popular models were smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Fusion midsize sedan, sales of which rose 40%, and the Ford Escape compact SUV, which had 19% higher sales compared to a year ago.
George Pipas, Ford’s director of sales analysis, said that while there was an increase in small-car sales in the first two months of the year, new offerings in the segment likely had as much to do with the shift as gas prices did.
Car sales barely topped truck sales for the month, with the rear brought up by crossover vehicles.
• Sales of the outgoing Focus — the new one is due in a few weeks — were up 43%. Retail sales of Ford’s small cars – Fiesta and Focus – were up 114%.
• The all-new Explorer was up 268% over its slow-selling predecessor. Ford says the Explorer was the fastest-turning vehicle in Ford showrooms.
• Total sales, including fleet, were 156,626, up 14% from last February. Retail sales were up 23%.
• Ford says it’s seeing more buyer sensitivity to gas mileage ratings. “With oil nearing $100 per barrel and gasoline prices continuing to rise, consumers’ consideration for fuel economy once again is taking top billing,” said Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.
Analysts say the improving U.S. economy has given some buyers a better sense of security that they will not lose their jobs and can afford to make a big-ticket purchase like a car.