The Ford Fiesta, Ford’s top-selling small car, is cele-brating its 30th anniversary by jumping off to a fast start in 2006, with a 10 percent increase in sales through February.

In the first two months of 2006, Ford sold 55,000 new Fiestas in Europe, an increase of 5,100 units from 49,900 in the same period of 2005. February Fiesta sales were 23,100, a four percent increase from February a year ago. Ford made several changes to the Fiesta late last year to complement its acclaimed driving dynamics, including adding a more expressive exterior, increased color and trim choices, up-grading the interior, and offering Bluetooth phone connectivity and voice control.

Ford’s most successful Western European market in February, both in terms of sales and share, was the UK. Despite an ongoing weak industry in the British industry, Ford increased its sales by 1,100 units to 16,700 units from 15,600 a year ago. Ford also extended its lead as the No. 1 brand in the UK by improving market share to 17.7 percent from 16.1 percent. In Germany, Ford’s top market in terms of volume, the company sold 17,900 vehicles in February, 1,500 more than last year, and in-creased its vehicle share to 6.9 percent from 6.8 percent.

Ford also had strong performance in emerging markets like Russia and Turkey. In Russia, the company sold 5,000 units in February, 2,100 vehicles more than last year, and gained an import market share of 12.2 percent versus 8.9 percent in 2005. In Turkey, Ford sold 7,200 cars and trucks, over 1,300 more than last year. Market share in Turkey was 17.5 percent in February versus 16.4 percent in 2005. In total, Ford of Europe’s sales performance was mixed in February. In its 19 major European markets, Ford sold 99,600 vehicles, 2,100 units or 0.3 percentage points less than in February 2005. The slight decrease is primarily a result of the weakness in the British car industry.

Ford’s passenger car share for February was 7.7 percent versus 8.1 percent for Feb-ruary in 2005. The company’s commercial vehicle share increased by 0.4 percentage points to 8.2 percent from 7.8 percent.

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