U.S. Auto Sales: Ford sales up 7% in January image

Ford Motor Company U.S. sales in January totaled 136,710 vehicles, a 7 percent gain compared with January 2011, the company said on Wednesday.

The Ford brand, the company’s largest, saw an 8.3 percent increase in sales, while Lincoln sales were down 7.9 percent. A year earlier, Ford sold 248 Mercury vehicles, a brand it has since phased out.

Focus small car and Escape utility combined provided 49 percent of Ford Motor Company volume growth in January. With 17,259 Escape vehicles sold, it was another best-ever January for Escape, topping last January by 24 percent.

Sales of the Ford Explorer totaled 9,966, a 36 percent gain versus strong year-ago results.

Ford expects full-year sales will wind up between 13.5 million and 14.5 million, including medium and heavy trucks. Medium and heavy trucks typically account for annual sales of 300,000.

Analysts are expecting industrywide sales to rise around 7 percent to more than 870,000 for January, kicking off what is expected to be the strongest year for the industry since the recession.