Ford Says It's The No.1 Auto Brand — Even Though It's Actually No.2

auto sales usFord runs a clear second place to GM in car sales.

Photo: Wall Street Journal

Since December, Ford has officially claimed to be the best-selling brand in the U.S., with more than 2 million vehicles sold in 2012, the second straight year Ford went above that mark.Those claims are misleading, however. This chart (right) from the Wall Street Journal of U.S. car sales clearly shows Ford a consistent second place to General Motors.

Ford is actually the No. 2 U.S. car company by total sales, Ad Age confirms. It has been for a while, as CNN reported.*

Ford / FacebookA Ford fan.

Photo: Ford / Facebook

Ford is only able to make its best-selling claim because it’s counting sales of cars under the “Ford” brand specifically. GM sells cars under different brands, such as Chevrolet; Chrysler sells trucks under the Ram brand; and Honda also markets the Acura line of cars. Ford counts those separately, it turns out.Ford didn’t used to make the No.1 claim. In a press release from April 2012, it touted its best sales month ever, but didn’t claim to be the No.1 brand. By August, according to its own press releases, Ford was No.1. It stayed No.1 in January too.

Erich Merkle, an analyst at Ford, justified the No.1 claim by telling Ad Age that they’re talking about Ford being No. 1 among auto brands, not all brands.  “It’s somewhat implicit,” Mr. Merkle said.

Correction: This story originally said incorrectly that Ford was the No.1 brand in global sales. It is not. Rather, Ford claims the Ford Focus is the No.1 selling car brand. Apologies.

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