Updated: January 4, 2012 9:58AM
DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. sales rose 11 percent in 2011 thanks to strong demand for its trucks and SUVs.
Ford sold 2.1 million vehicles last year, a sign of the industry’s continuing recovery. It was the first time the Ford brand has passed the 2 million mark since before the recession in 2007.
Strong sellers included the new Ford Explorer SUV, which more than doubled sales from 2010. The Escape small SUV and Ranger small pickup also posted big increases.
Ford’s car sales rose 4 percent. Sales of the Fiesta subcompact nearly tripled over 2010, but Ford didn’t get much traction with its new Focus small car.
Ford’s Lincoln brand sales were flat.
Ford says December sales climbed 10 percent over the same month last year.
Meanwhile, General Motors Co.’s U.S. sales rose 13 percent last year as the company recovered from its financial disaster in 2009.
GM sold just over 2.5 million new cars and trucks in the U.S. Its December sales rose nearly 5 percent from a year earlier.
The Chevrolet Cruze compact and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks led sales.
Other carmakers reported strong sales for 2011. Chrysler sales jumped 26 percent, and Nissan’s climbed nearly 15 percent.
Industry analysts say people are starting to buy cars and trucks because they feel more confident about the economy. They expect total U.S. sales in 2011 to be around 12.7 million. That’s up nearly 10 percent from 2010.