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Ford Motor Co. (F - Analyst Report) announced that its compact car Focus continued to remain the top selling brand in the first quarter of 2013, retaining the crown it received in 2012. Quoting global vehicle registration data from Polk, the car maker revealed that the global retail registrations of Focus surged 18% year over year in the first quarter of 2013. The data for the second quarter was not provided by the company.

As per Ford, Focus recorded 288,724 new registrations in the first quarter of 2013, buoyed by the demand in China and Brazil. China alone contributed about 36% of the registrations, recording a 153% increase over the first quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, Brazil witnessed an 18% increase in Focus registrations.

The increasing demand has led Ford to increase its Focus manufacturing capacity to 2 cars per minute, which implies 1.5 million Focus vehicles per annum. To achieve this, the company started manufacturing Focus in its plant in Pacheco, Argentina. This takes the tally of global Focus manufacturing facilities to 9, including the plants in the United States, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Russia and Germany.

However, the data provided by Ford does not consider the derivative cars of rival Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TM - Analyst Report) Corolla, such as Matrix, Auris (sold in Europe) and Verso (sold in Japan). Toyota claims that this omission has reduced the registration of Corolla by 300,000 in 2012. After including the registrations of Auris and Verso, Corolla manages to snatch the crown of the best selling brand in 2012 from Ford’s Focus.

Moreover, Toyota is set to launch a new version of Corolla next month. The new version has improved styling, aimed at beating Ford, which currently has more stylish products.

Ford currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other major automobile stocks worth considering are General Motors Company (GM - Analyst Report) and Volkswagen AG (VLKAY). Volkswagen carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and General Motors carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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