DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. reported a 2 percent sales increase in December, the smallest gain among the major automakers in the U.S. market. Behind it was only Nissan North America, which posted a 2 percent sales drop.
For all of 2012, the automaker's sales increased 5 percent to 2,243,009. Ford's increase was well below the 13 percent gain for the industry as a whole.
Ford's market share fell to 15.5 percent in 2012, down from 16.8 percent in 2011 and 16.9 percent in 2010.
The company's sales were once again led by the F-series pickup, up 10 percent to 645,316.
In December, Ford-brand sales rose 2 percent while Lincoln sales fell 12 percent. In 2012, Ford-brand sales rose 5 percent, while Lincoln sales dropped 4 percent.
Ford's December sales were dented by a recall of two key vehicles: the 2013 Escape crossover and Fusion sedan. Sales of the Escape fell 21 percent, and the Fusion was off 11 percent. Ford recalled versions of those nameplates equipped with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engines to make engine and fuel line modifications.
In a conference call with analysts and journalists, Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said recalls of the Escape and Fusion hurt those vehicles' sales in the first half of the month.
Sales of the Fusion and Escape returned to pre-recall levels in the last week of the month, he said. Ford sold 261,008 Escapes in 2012, up 3 percent and a record for the nameplate. Fusion sales fell 3 percent in 2012.
Sales of the Focus compact soared 40 percent in 2012, and the Focus nipped the Fusion at the wire as the company's third-biggest seller after the F series and the Escape. No other nameplates sold more than 200,000 units.
Sales at the struggling Lincoln brand, 82,150 in 2012, were below the 82,995 racked up by the Ford Mustang in 2012.
"Lincoln sales were down for the month as dealers sold remaining MKZ stock," Czubay said. The redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ is being shipped from Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant. Czubay said dealers should be fully stocked with the redesigned car by the end of the first quarter.