Ford Claims Top Spot In Global Sales Race

The Focus is the best-selling "nameplate" worldwide, followed by the Toyota Corolla, new data shows. Ford's sales have jumped in recent years as it dropped unsuccessful models and adopted a single global manufacturing system.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Ford Motor Company has earned the top spot in a global sales race. Its Ford Focus model is top selling passenger car in the world - with sales of more than a million of the vehicles worldwide last year.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports on the keys to the success.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: One of the ways that the Ford Focus has been able to get to top of the global heap is by streamlining - take one car build it all over the world.

Mike Wall is an analyst with IHS Automotive. He says that's let Ford benefit from economies of scale.

MIKE WALL: Because those economies of scale are critical when you're talking about - you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars or, you know, billions of dollars, as it were, in research and development budgets, in capital expenditure budgets, so you've got to give - it's all about getting more bang for your buck.

GLINTON: Ford has eliminated brands and models and focused on a few cars. Note that I said cars. Ford for many years had been willing to give up on cars and put its real energy in trucks and SUV's. Now that's changed, and so has its approach to building cars.

Wall says the auto companies used to essentially build cars for each region of the world. He says Ford will still customize its cars for each market.

WALL: But you're not going to be building a whole darn car from the ground up in each of these markets or having to design a whole car from the, you know, soup to nuts as it relates to that in each of these markets. You've got a very strong baseline to work with and that is the Focus.

GLINTON: Wall says Ford is the first of the American companies to benefit from the one car strategy - the others won't be too far behind.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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