Mark Ovenden (Inset), Ford of Britain managing director, said: 'Ford’s car range has started 2012 with a terrific performance that extends our UK lead in total car sales, and provides a good indicator for March, when sales are boosted significantly by the registration plate change.

'Our best-ever range of vehicles will grow even further thanks to a series of new launches this year, flagged up by a glittering display on the Ford stand at this week's  Geneva Motor Show. The list of upcoming models includes the new Ford B-MAX, the new Ford Kuga, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost Ford Focus, and the new Fiesta and Focus ST models.'

The official figures released by the SMMT today show that total car sales last month were down 2.5% to 61,868 units, compared with February 2011. Ford car sales of 8,957 were up 18.8%, from 7,542 in February 2011.

Ford's retail car market share for the year to date (end February) is 13.1%, 1.9 percentage points up from the same period in 2011. For this same period, Ford increased its retail car sales lead over its nearest rival by 120%, from 1,986 to 4,363, and it increased its total car sales lead more than three-fold, from 2,076 to 9,806.

Ford Focus was the UK best seller in February, taking 6.0% of the total car market, up from 3.9% in February 2011. Ford Fiesta is the UK best seller for the year to date; its sales have increased from 8,248 to 10,723, compared with the same period in 2011.

UK commercial vehicle sales were down 16.6 per cent, compared with February 2011. The LCV and MCV segments in which Ford competes were down 63.6 and 18.5%, respectively.  Sales of Ford commercials in February were down from 3,371 to 2,333, compared with the same month last year.

Ford medium commercials, headed by the industry-leading Ford Transit, accounted for one-in-four sales in that segment for the year to date. Ford’s share of MCV sales was 25.0%, down from 29.1% for the same period in 2011. Ford’s share of light commercial sales for the year to date was 40.6%, up from 19.2% in 2011.