Ford says it is seeing more customers trading in vehicles from competing brands, citing the move as one of the reasons for its recent US market share gains.

The rate of customers who traded in competitive brand vehicles rose 18% from the 2005 to 2009 model year, said Ford. Lincoln was up 61%, while Mercury saw a 12% increase from the 2005 to 2009 model year.

"We're finding that when customers of competing brands check out our new line-up, they are increasingly becoming Ford owners," said Ford vice president marketing, sales and service, Ken Czubay.

"The strength of our new products is making the difference in a very competitive marketplace."

Ford added its Fusion Hybrid, Escape Hybrid and Mustang were attracting the most customers who traded in competing brands, with more than 60% of trade-ins for the Fusion Hybrid being non-Ford vehicles. More than 50% of trade-ins for the Ford Mustang were competitive brands.

The redesigned Ford Taurus apparently showed the biggest increase in attracting new customers to the Ford brand, while the Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Lincoln MKX drew the most customers from competing brands.

"We're seeing customers from competing brands in the showroom [who] we haven't seen in a long time, if ever," said Lincoln and Mercury dealership president and owner in Louisville, Kevin Collins.

"They [customers] are pleasantly surprised with our entire line-up. Ford is back on their shopping list."

Ford said it gained US market share in 2009, its first full-year market share gain since 1995. Ford has now gained market share for 16 of the past 17 months.