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(Reuters) - Ford Motor (F.N) said its primary Ford brand vehicle sales topped 2 million in the United States this year, the first time since 2007 that any single automotive brand has reached that level.
The Ford brand passed the 2-million mark on Wednesday this week, said Erich Merkle, Ford U.S. sales analyst.
Ford's small cars sales are on pace to post an increase of more than 20 percent this year, while its utility vehicles are tracking a 30-percent gain, the company said.
The Ford brand sold slightly more than 1.9 million cars in 2010 in the United States. Overall, including its Lincoln luxury brand and now-defunct Mercury brand, Ford company sales were up about 11 percent through November, and the Ford brand's sales were up about 18 percent.
As gasoline prices rose in 2011, customers continued to move toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. In recent years, Ford has emphasized fuel efficiency, including adding its "EcoBoost" engines that include turbocharging and fewer cylinders, particularly on utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
U.S. auto sales in December are expected to top 13 million on an annual rate, J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive said.
Through November, Ford's companywide auto sales were No. 2 in the U.S. market at about 17 percent market share, behind General Motors Co's (GM.N) nearly 20 percent share.
The recession cut into U.S. auto sales beginning in 2008. Sales had topped 16 million annually but fell to 10.4 million in 2009, and have been rising slowly since.
Once again, as it has each year for more than three decades, the Ford F-Series pickup trucks are the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. market. Through November, Ford sold 516,639 F-Series pickup trucks, according to Autodata.
Two more Ford models also had U.S. sales of more than 200,000 each in the first 11 months of the year, the Fusion sedan and the Escape small SUV.
Through November, the Ford brand sold 1.86 million new vehicles in the U.S. market, followed by GM's Chevrolet brand at 1.61 million, Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T) Toyota brand at 1.29 million and Honda Motor Co's (7267.T) Honda brand at 0.93 million.
Ford earlier this decade had eight brands, but has shed all but its primary Ford and its luxury Lincoln brands; Lincoln is sold only in North America.
Through November, about 77,000 Lincoln vehicles were sold in the U.S. market. Ford began killing off its Mercury brand in 2010 and in 2011 sold 248 cars.
Ford shares were trading at $10.69 on Friday, up 0.1 percent, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reporting by Divya Sharma in Bangalore and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Roshni Menon, Phil Berlowitz