DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. rode strong SUV and pickup sales to a 13 percent sales increase in November, a percentage point behind the November industrywide gain. Ford's November sales totaled 166,441.
Ford brand, up 20 percent for the month to 160,136, led the sales increase, paced by the F-series full-sized pickup and the Escape crossover. But Lincoln sales slumped 18 percent to 6,305 as all models but the MKX declined for the month from year-earlier levels. The MKX, a mid-sized crossover, increased 5 percent.
Including both brands, the company said its SUV sales shot up 29 percent for the month, while truck sales jumped 23 percent. Car sales dropped 9 percent.
The biggest gainer was the Escape, up 46 percent for the month to 21,823, making it the second-best selling Ford vehicle behind the F-series pickup. F series sales grew 24 percent to 47,740.
Among Ford brand cars, sales of the Fiesta, Fusion and Taurus rose, while sales of the Focus, Mustang and discontinued Crown Victoria fell.
Erich Merkle, Ford's U.S. sales analyst, said Focus sales were down almost entirely because of a decline in fleet sales.
Ken Czubay, Ford vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the Focus is now reaching younger buyers, with one in six Focus customers under age 25. And Ford is reaching more retail customers outside its traditional heartland, he said.
Czubay said Ford's fastest growing region for retail sales is the West, with retail sales up 24 percent for the year, followed by the eastern region, with a retail increase of about 21 percent. Those increases, which are outside Ford's traditional heartland stronghold, are led by sales of newer vehicles such as the Explorer, Focus and Fiesta, he said.
"Lincoln sales are down only one percentage point and retail is actually up one percentage point" in the first 11 months, Czubay said. "Retail share for Lincoln is actually up a little for the year."
He added: "We're on plan with Lincoln. Sales have stabilized and look like continued growth next year. You will see some more exciting news about Lincoln" at the Detroit auto show.
In the first 11 months of 2011, the automaker's sales rose 9 percent to 1,933,654.
Merkle said the November sales mix was 70 percent 2012 models and 30 percent 2011 models.
Ford said that its dealers have an inventory of 156,000 cars and 331,000 trucks for a total of 487,000, or a 73-day supply.