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Ford posts 7% fall in 2021 U.S. auto sales

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FILE PHOTO: Ford logo is seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan
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(Reuters) -Ford Motor Co reported a 6.8% fall in 2021 U.S. vehicle sales on Wednesday, as the automaker struggled to deliver its cars and trucks due to lingering supply-chain bottlenecks and a global chip shortage.

The Detroit automaker sold 1,905,955 vehicles in 2021, ending up behind new U.S. leader Toyota Motor Corp and rival General Motors Co. Ford had sold 2,044,744 vehicles a year earlier.

Total U.S. light vehicle sales for 2021 were just under 15 million, according to Wards Intelligence, below the five-year average of 17.3 million from 2015 to 2019.

Sales of Ford's Mustang Mach-E electric crossover came in at 27,140 for 2021. The company plans to triple the annual production of the electric crossover to more than 200,000 by 2023, to meet better-than-anticipated demand.

Ford has been sharpening focus on its electric vehicle strategy and said on Tuesday it would nearly double annual production capacity for its red-hot F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 150,000 vehicles.

Its shares recovered from early weakness to trade 1% higher on Wednesday at their highest level since 2001.

They gained 136% in 2021, outperforming GM's 40.8% rise and EV leader Tesla Inc's 49.7% jump, as investors bet buyers will lap up the electric version of the F-150.

"I think there’s optimism with GM as well, especially compared to pre-2021, but lately Ford is enjoying the better sentiment" due to its aggressive electrification strategy, Morningstar Research analyst David Whiston said.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes and Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Aditya Soni)

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