U.S. consumers purchased or leased 419,932 cars and trucks from Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Jaguar, and Volvo dealers in the month of June, down 2.6 percent from a year ago. Last June, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) posted its best sales month in history (431,033) -- since eclipsed by record sales of 441,701 in March 2000.

In the first six months of 2000, Ford Motor Company's U.S. sales were a record 2,286,561, up 5.5 percent from the same period a year ago. The previous first half sales record (2,159,703) was set in 1978.

Despite the sales decline in June, Bob Rewey, Ford's Group Vice President, Global Consumer Services and North America, indicated that he was pleased with the overall result: "June was one of our best sales months in history," he noted. "It just happened to be up against an even stronger month. We're encouraged that we got close to setting another record in a more difficult economic and competitive environment."

"We're looking forward to the second half of the year," Rewey continued. "Overall, our inventories are in good shape with about 45 days' supply of cars and 60 days' supply for trucks. Consumer response to our new products has been outstanding, and there are more new products just around the corner. The all-new Ford Escape, a vehicle that seems perfectly timed and perfectly positioned, and other new products will help keep our momentum strong in the coming months. We definitely have our sights set on a new sales record in 2000."

June 12 marked the start of production for the Ford Escape at the Kansas City Assembly Plant. Based on an all-new platform, the Ford Escape combines unibody construction with a number of segment leading features, including best-in-class interior room. Pricing for the 2001 Ford Escape starts at $18,160 for the front-wheel-drive XLS with a four-cylinder engine and a five- speed transmission. The XLT, with optional V-6 engine and Ford's new Control Trac II four-wheel drive, is priced at $21,335.