(Adds background on SUVs)
NEW YORK, April 10 A top Ford Motor Co
executive said on Monday industry-wide sales of sport utility
vehicles will continue to rise in the United States as the
country's second-largest U.S. automaker gets ready to unveil a
refreshed 2018 Ford Explorer SUV.
The market share of SUVs has increased to nearly 40 percent
from 32.6 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales in 2016.
Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales
and service told reporters at an event on Monday ahead of this
week's New York International Auto Show that the company expects
that figure to rise to 45 percent of industry sales within five
to seven years.
Automakers are "responding to consumer demand," LaNeve said,
citing the growing number of SUVs automakers are introducing.
Ford last refreshed the Explorer in 2015.
Low fuel prices and improving fuel efficiency among SUVs
have helped prod more Americans into buying SUVs and pickup
trucks in recent years and put pressure on car sales. Many
automakers like Volkswagen AG are shifting focus in
the United States from cars to SUVs.
Ford has said it plans to unveil five new SUVs in the United
States by 2020. Reuters reported in February that a sixth new
model would carry the Lincoln badge.
The company is also launching a redesigned 2018 model year
version of its larger Expedition SUV. Both the new Expedition
and Explorer will go on sale this fall.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler and