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According to Merrill Lynch's Car Wars study, Ford's improving lineup of cars will be responsible for hauling the company's market share to places it hasn't been in many decades – namely, ahead of General Motors and number one in the U.S. With its recent rise to 16.1% share, Ford has taken the number two spot most recently held by Toyota, and Merrill predicts Ford's share over the next four years will rise another two points to 18%.

Even as it had the best-selling vehicle in America in the F-150, Ford's domestic market share has been shrinking for 13 years. The turnaround comes at the same time that post-bankruptcy GM is expected to decline five points, to about 15%, over the next four years. If the report proves to be true, that would put Ford ahead of every other automaker in the U.S. with a clear swath of daylight between them.

In case you were wondering, Chrysler is predicted to fare even worse, because "Chrysler's product pipeline is dubious and likely to drive significant market share losses." Merrill's analysis of a 6% loss of market share would take the Pentastar down to 6%, while Hyundai, Honda, and Kia are expected to post gains of 3- to 3.5%.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req'd]

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