The Ford sales surge ran beyond the expectations of analysts and sent the company’s stock sharply higher. Ford shares powered above $11 to hit their highest level since August 2005.
The stock has gained 55 per cent in a rally since early November and has more than quadrupled in value over the past year as investors bet that the number two US automaker would steer clear of the federal bailouts that wiped out shareholdings in its domestic rivals.
Other automakers trailed Ford’s gain. Sales for Nissan were up 18 per cent in December. Chrysler’s sales dropped four per cent. General Motors was expected to post a sales decline near nine per cent.
After adjusting for population, US car sales suffered their deepest decline since World War Two in 2009. Full-year sales are expected to be just over 10.3m vehicles, down 40 per cent from where the industry began the decade in 2000.
Last year saw both GM and Chrysler collapse into bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, in a historic reversal, vehicle sales in China surged to overtake the US market as the world’s largest in 2009.
Analysts expect China’s sales to have soared 44 per cent to 13.5m units in 2009.