Ford’s May sales fall 24 per cent

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) said Tuesday its U.S. sales fell 24 per cent in May from a year ago, but sales rose 20 per cent from April as the automaker continues to gain market share from its competitors now under bankruptcy protection.

A truck loaded with Ford and Lincoln vehicles are transported from Canada to the U.S. Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) said Tuesday its U.S. sales fell 24 per cent in May from a year ago, but sales rose 20 per cent from April as the automaker continues to gain market share from its competitors now under bankruptcy protection.

General Motors Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection Monday. Chrysler LLC, which filed in April, is preparing to exit bankruptcy protection under an operating agreement with Italian automaker Fiat SpA. Both automakers, and others, report their May U.S. sales results later Tuesday.

Dearborn-based Ford said it sold 161,197 cars and light trucks in the U.S. last month. Sales of the Ford Fusion rose 9.4 per cent as the company began selling new 2010 models of the midsize sedan along with a hybrid version. Ford said it sold a record number Fusions — 19,786 in May — which was surpassed only by sales of its F-series pickup trucks.

Ford says its better cars are driving sales and its increasing market share, not GM and Chrysler’s filings for bankruptcy protection. The company said it plans to increase production levels in the second quarter by 10,000 vehicles, to 445,000, in contrast to its U.S. competitors that are cutting production and idling plants this summer.

Ford also said it plans to build 460,000 vehicles in the third quarter, 42,000 more than in the third quarter of 2008.

Automakers are facing the worst U.S. sales climate in 27 years. The companies and analysts are expecting are a rebound as the consumer confidence improves, but there’s concern that heavy incentives to are inflating sales.

Ford said it decreased incentive spending in May but is launching a new program, “Drive the Ford Difference,” this month, in which the company will pay three months of car payments, up to $2,100. Zero-per cent financing will also be available on some vehicles.

Shares of Ford rose two cents to $6.15 in midday trading.

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