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Local new-car sales in February continued their good start this year, increasing 2 percent from a year ago, bolstered by a strong month for Ford.

Franchised dealers sold 4,300 new cars and trucks last month, compared with 4,212 the year before, the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers said. Through the first two months, regional sales were up 13 percent from the same period in 2012.

Among brands reporting their sales figures (Chevrolet does not), Ford was the leader, with 1,166 units sold by 14 area dealers. That was up 25 percent from a year ago, and it was Ford’s best single month since May 2012.

Chuck Basil Sr. of Basil Ford in Cheektowaga said the popularity of leasing was a key factor in Ford’s sales increase. “It’s extremely competitive, and [there are] advantageous lease payments,” he said.

Basil said Ford also has a strong product lineup, with the Escape, Fusion and F-150 as the top sellers in the area market.

Basil said a lot of his dealership’s year-over-year gains came from vehicles such as the Fiesta and Focus, where availability is sometimes an issue. “If we could get more of them, we could sell more of them.”

Toyota’s sales were virtually unchanged from a year ago, and Honda’s were down 11 percent, according to the NFADA. Among the top 10 brands reporting their sales figures, four reported gains and six reported declines. Ford’s increase accounted for 36 percent of the region’s year-over-year rise in sales.

Buick and Kia each reported its best sales month since August 2011, while GMC had its best individual month since February 2011.

U.S. auto sales in February increased 4 percent from a year ago, according to Automotive News.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com