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Ford, GM and Chrysler posted gains in February sales

February was a good month for the Big 3.

The increase is a sign that U.S. auto sales remain strong even in an uneven economy.

Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales rose 9% in February on strong sales of the Escape SUV and Fusion sedan, both of which set February sales records.

New versions of the Escape and Fusion went on sale late last year, but sales were initially slow due to a series of safety recalls.

Last month, Fusion sales jumped 28% and Escape sales rose 29%. Together, the vehicles made up more than a quarter of Ford's monthly sales.

Pickup truck sales were also strong as businesses replace aging trucks. F-Series pickup sales rose 15% last month.

Ford sold a total of 195,822 vehicles in February.

The company said it plans to increase North American production by 9% in the second quarter compared with the second quarter of 2012.

General Motors' U.S. sales rose 7% in February, another sign that U.S. auto sales powered through any consumer uncertainty caused by an uneven economy and possible government spending cuts.

GM says it sold just over 224,000 cars and trucks last month, led by the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a 29 percent increase. GM sold nearly 42,000 Silverados in February as businesses replaced aging trucks.

Chrysler says its sales last month rose 4% from a year ago for the company's best February since 2008.

The automaker says it sold just over 139,000 cars and trucks last month.

Chrysler sales were led by the Dodge Avenger midsize sedan with a 52% increase. Ram pickup sales were up 3% for the best February since 2007.

But Chrysler's torrid pace of growth is starting to slow. In 2012, the company's U.S. sales rose 21%.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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