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Local Ford sales up, company says

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Ford Motor Company reports that the Atlanta region has experienced a 12-percent retail sales increase versus a year ago.

The company attributes those numbers to summer and fall sales spurred by the government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), as well as interest in new, fuel-efficient vehicles, such as the Ford Focus, Ford Fusion, and Ford Escape.

In August, Ford Focus sales totaled 25,574 nationally, an August record, up 56 percent versus a year ago.

August Ford Fusion sales totaled 21,010, up 132 percent from last year, and Ford Escape sales totaled 20,933, up 49 percent from last year.

Allan Vigil, owner of Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury in Morrow, said his dealership has also seen an increase in sales. He believes Ford fared well in August due its new product line and the "cash for clunkers" rebate.

"We have been blessed with being able to come out with good products over the years," he said. "I think we are a little ahead of the curve. It [the recession] hasn't been as devastating to us, as it has been to others. Our sales this August are up 140 percent versus last August."

Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury sold 18 Ford Fusion cars in August, versus six last August. Ford Focus sales were 23, up from 11 last August, and Ford Escape sales were 21, up from seven last August.

Vigil said the fact that Ford did not accept money from the government's bailout of the auto industry has brought in "crossover" customers. He said that the government has been slow to reimburse Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury for its participation in the CARS program.

He said he expects the upswing in sales to continue, once the company replenishes its inventory in the next few weeks.

"When the [CARS] program first came out, we were supposed to get paid in four days," after offering a rebate, Vigil said. "We're out $700,000, and we don't really know when we are going to get it.

"It was kind of a cumbersome program and dealing with the government was a nightmare. But it did what it was supposed to do and brought in a lot of good people," he said. "It came at a good times, when we needed it."