A 31 percent gain for the Ford F-series pickup and a monthly record for the Escape crossover helped Ford Motor Co. reach its best May U.S. sales total since 2006.
Overall, Ford sales rose 14 percent from a year ago to 246,019, or just 6,875 units fewer than General Motors. It outsold Toyota Motor Sales by more than 38,000 units.
Ford sold more than 70,000 F series for the first time in more than six years. Escape sales rose 26 percent to 29,123, the highest monthly volume in that nameplate's 13-year history.
Ford's upscale brand, Lincoln, posted flat sales, though deliveries of the redesigned MKZ sedan, which accumulated a backlog of orders as the company held back shipments for additional quality inspections, were up 42 percent.
"Our products have been performing very well, so we're outpacing the industry growth," Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said during a conference call today. "There's great demand for the Ford products and we anticipate seeing ongoing share growth."
Ford said it plans to increase North American production 10 percent in the third quarter from the same period of 2012, to 740,000 units.
The Fusion and Focus each recorded 10 percent sales gains, enough to make them the two top-selling cars made by the Detroit 3. The Fusion's total of 29,553 units was a May record for the car, which is making a serious run at the Japanese sedans that typically dominate the mid-sized segment.
Czubay said demand for the Fusion is surging in California and Florida, where domestic cars have long performed poorly. He said its retail share of the segment in California more than doubled from a year ago, to 8 percent. The hybrid version of the Fusion is selling off dealer lots in an average of six days in the Los Angeles and Miami.
Ford said May was the best month ever for a group of vehicles it calls the Super Segment, with sales up 19 percent to 96,266. The group consists of the Fusion, Escape, Fiesta subcompact, Focus compact and C-Max Hybrid crossover.
Sales of the Ford Mustang fell 16 percent, but Ford officials noted that it was the car's best month since last June and that its share of the segment has remained steady. The Flex, down 17 percent, was the only Ford crossover or SUV to post a decline.