WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.'s Fiesta subcompact car will remain an important part of the automaker's product line even after U.S. sales have slid 25 percent this year, said Erich Merkle, Ford's U.S. sales analyst.
Sales of the Fiesta, the smallest car in Ford's lineup, fell to 35,385 units in the U.S. through July, as purchases of the compact Focus have risen 31 percent to 147,877 units during the same period, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Volatile gasoline prices will help sales of both models, Merkle said.
"The small-car segment, given its size, the largest in the industry, is large enough for two vehicles," Merkle said Monday in an interview in Washington. The Fiesta is the second-best selling vehicle globally for Ford.
The company's U.S. market share declined to 15.6 percent this year through July from 16.9 percent a year earlier as its 5.1 percent sales gain lagged the industry's 14 percent increase, according to Autodata Corp.
Ford's North American unit earned $2.01 billion in pretax operating profit last quarter while the company lost money in Europe and other markets.
Ford's F-series pickups will post a sales increase this year despite last month's 0.4 percent gain from a year earlier, Merkle said. Pickup truck sales normally increase in the second half of the year, he said. F-Series sales rose 12 percent in the first seven months.
An improvement in the housing industry would help those sales along, he said. New U.S. home construction rose to the highest level in almost four years in June. Housing starts rose 6.9 percent that month to an annual pace of 760,000, according to the Commerce Department.
Ford sees U.S. vehicle sales on pace for the low end of its forecast of 14.5 million to 15 million vehicles this year, Merkle said. The figures include medium- and heavy-duty trucks.